Fundraising experts sharpen their pencils to face a changing world

publication date: Mar 27, 2013
author/source: Joy Bullen

Fifteen respected philanthropy leaders and four bold young people who have tackled the innovation encouraged attendees at February’s Pure Philanthropy, presented by Frank Cerisano Management, to re-think their role in philanthropy.

John Tory, Jill Burch, Michael Cloutier, George A Fierheller, Catherine Finlayson, Richard Klagsbrun, Kevin Goldthorp, David Love, William Pitcher, O’Neil Outar, Ken Wyman . . . these leaders have ridden the waves of social and economic distress, donor fatigue and corporate restraints to emerge as some of the world’s best fundraisers. And their voices are unanimous…Engagement is key! Donors want to be engaged. Money follows engagement.

Here is what they say…

  • Donors want to be engaged, so offer that opportunity as part of the ask.
  • Fundraising is a form of social activism. The impact of what you do must be shown to be transformative.
  • Leadership is important. Charities must have strategic leadership that looks ahead.
  • Corporations are focusing on one or two causes, so research the appropriate corporate sources for your cause.
  • There is a trend toward more and more inter-organizational partnerships. Explore this – it makes good business sense.
  • Boomers want to leave a legacy, so planned giving will explode.
  • Communication is key – talk to your donors – or someone else will.
  • Tell your stories and tie them to the key topics of the day. And listen to your donors. Do not push to close the gift. Keeping the conversation open will allow new and valued partnerships to develop.
  • Address your big funding challenges by focusing on big campaigns, big dollars and big donors.
  • Focus on outcomes over process.
  • People give to people.
  • Money follows engagement.
  • And, most provocatively – make sure your charity is still relevant.

In a world without borders, organizations are being pushed to learn quickly and apply their learning across traditional boundaries. Enter the four bold young people who caught my attention: David Darg, Martha Rogers, Hugh Evans and Mallika Chopra.

Big ideas, fearless execution

Darg and Rogers faced the challenge of engaging individuals who were unaware of the causes they were helping. Their answer – This is a conceptually simple but powerful product that links attention-getting news stories to charities and organizations that support the underlying cause. 

RYOT news delivers breaking news, online, in real time, and then provides links so that “every news story lets you take action.” Crowd-funding can provide an unlimited source of donations for a charity that tells its story effectively. With 7,000 hits per second even though the site is still in beta mode, every charity should be signing up to partner with RYOT news.

29 year old Hugh Evans has a mission to end extreme poverty in his lifetime. He believes it is important to “do stuff that can scare yourself.” And he showed us how with the Global Citizen Festival that he organized in New York City. It featured top entertainers and raised $1.3 billion from a range of foundations private donors and businesses. Concert tickets were distributed free to anyone who provided an e-mail address to Global Citizen and then performed certain actions through the Web site, including watching videos, spreading information via social media and doing something for a partner organization.

Mallika Chopra shared her strategy for engaging supporters through social media. She counsels, “Utilize all media that is popular today, follow the major influencers and write your story to drive people to your website.” Mallika launched and The Chopra Well, a YouTube channel.

Success requires a fusion of bold ideas and experience.  Kudos to the Pure Philanthropy conference for bringing them all together!

Joy Bullen is General Manager of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale. Contact her by email.

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