Beginning

Today is the first day of Fall, a beginning to a new season. Likewise, every journey has a beginning and so to mine.

I have new contact information to share and, of course, can always be reached here or via LinkedIn.

Reflecting on the 20 years I have been in this industry, it is the passion and spirit of the people who commit themselves to causes that they embrace, that inspire them, that provide security and meaning to their lives…..this is the draw for me.

Indeed, authenticity, integrity and meaning have become central to so many aspects of our careers. Even more so during the recent economic crisis; reflection and assessment on what is important, the realities of the very core, fundamental human relationships that build and empower our work. The realness of it all. It inspires us to reach out, do more, act selflessly, grow.

I remain open to new horizons, opportunities and ideas.

Action!!

Three froggies sat on a rock by a sunlit pond. One froggy decided to jump in. How many frogs were left?

Answer: three.

Deciding to do something is not the same as actually doing it.
One has to act on a decision in order for something to change. Deciding to do something is only a small part of the process. Acting on that decision is the crucial moment. Many successful endings have been tragically averted because of inaction on a decision.

How many times have we spent hours, months even, deciding what to do? We decide and then we decide some more. And if someone asks us how we are doing with our contemplation in deciding, we state we have made a decision. Bravo! they say. And then we stroke and fondle that decision or we fret and gnaw at it. We turn it over. Or we place that decision on a shelf and light it for all to see. We have decided! We feel very, VERY accomplished!! Because we brilliantly worked that problem to a decision.

And then we look around us and see no change. No difference. No action.

The next time you are faced with a decision, make certain the most important part of the decision, is the decision to act. And then do it.

Dancing

Relationships are like a dance. Each person has a choreography script of steps in their head. This choreography script has been built over time, based on other dances we held a part in. The script is dynamic, but we may think its static.

Shuffle – ball- change left and you expect your partner to respond. Many times he/she does and that’s a positive reinforcement for your dance move. But when they don’t dance in the direction we expect, things can go horribly wrong. We can miss our connections, trip over each other, step on each others toes. God forbid its in the middle of a high twirl and toss, we could miss the catch completely!  Totally unsatisfying and non-productive.

Many times we expect that others will not only know our script, but will respond to it in a certain way. Our experience when they don’t can leave us feeling like we have two left feet.

Other times we wonder why, when we are sashaying right, they are responding with a dosy doe? We don’t think of changing our own steps to meet theirs, or to encourage their rewriting of their choreography script.

A relationship, like dancing, is a partnership and it relies on not only good communication, but an open mind to changing our own steps to meet our partners. Be free with it, not rigid, dynamic, not static and you will be surprised by your own facile growth and your partners responsive nature.

Philanthropy as business

Too often we are drawn to think about philanthropy and charities in terms of a softer, kinder model, less business focused. Because the product is not widgets, financial gains or consumables, but human caring, it is tempting to believe the business of philanthropy is just as soft and touchy/feelie.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being snarky about the work of charities. My heart is where they operate. I can think of no greater calling than to be working to help mankind. Truly. And I also believe that working to help mankind is not solely relegated to charities. Many businesses in the course of their work can, and have, effectively positioned their business model to acheive gains in their financial standing AND help mankind.
And so I believe charities can balance that concept as well. By this I mean, charities can help mankind and acheive significant financial gains. To do so, we need to think like a business. Just as business needs to think like charity to acheive their mutual ends.
A melding of concepts, could this be an evolution for two very seperate frames of thought in the MBA world?

Vacate

Europeans have the right idea, on many counts, of how to balance work and life: two hour lunch/naps, late socializing with friends and family, 6 week summer vacations.

The best thing a fundraiser can do is vacate. Remove yourself from the minutiae. Step away from the Treo, the database, the donors beck and call. Kindly, respectfully, dimiss yourself from your work a day environment.

Maybe take a close donor/friend along, but only if you both promise NOT to talk business (believe me he/she will appreciate it too).

And while you’re gone don’t think about work. Don’t think about philanthropy. Do something completely different. Exercise the right or left side of your brain (which ever is less dominant in your philanthropy career). Listen to some old Grateful Dead, paint, walk on the beach. Drink Corona’s or sweating cold glasses of iced tea. Read some good fiction. Sit under the stars, watching the flames of a bonfire. In the quiet. Breathe.

Your program wil be so much richer for it when you return.

Is your Philanthropy program the next Singer?

How many fundraising efforts die from stagnation? How many times do we do the same things over and over and expect different results? Sometimes best practices is not best practice, but the default go to brought on by years of default go to positions.

From Seth Godin “More now than ever, success today is no guarantee of success tomorrow. Sometimes we spend more time than we should defending the old thing, instead of working to take advantage of the new thing. I bet you can list a dozen “critical” industries that will be as relevant to life in 2020 as Singer is to our world today.”

What would you throw out/do differently/overhaul if you had the courage to do so?

Question the status quo, even AND especially if it is bringing you good results.  Stay ahead of the curve. Question assumptions, question the default go to position. Doing nothing different will ensure the same results. Make sure those are the results you are looking for.

Charities See Social Network Potential and Risk – BusinessWeek

Charities See Social Network Potential and Risk – BusinessWeek.

Lil Green Patches, Rice Bowls, Pink Ribbons. The landscape of  “get rich quick” widgets and apps are proliferating on Social Networking sites faster than three card monty men on a hot NYC sidewalk in summer. Okay bad analogy, but could the screaming environment of “Ronco”  style products, with their “work at home and make millions” case studies have a potential backlash to the industry and face of philanthropy? Are these social fundraising products fundraising or brand marketing? Is the forecast bright for significant revenue from use and expansion of these tools? Will those newly engaged to support the environment by sending plants or feeding the hungry by filling rice bowls, truly engaged? What is the conversation rate for these ‘donors’. How are they captured?

We may still be too newly minted to know.