Hi everyone. I just finished Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love, a collection of essays and poetry by Black fundraisers, reflecting on their experiences in our sector. It highlights the many instances of racism that Black colleagues face in fundraising, as well as the white savior complex and other issues with our sector, but there’s also lots of strength and joy. I highly recommend it, especially as August is Black Philanthropy Month, a good time for us to think about Black giving, support Black organizations and businesses, and elevate Black fundraisers’ experiences.
It has been a year since the Community-Centric Fundraising movement launched. I am grateful to see more fundraisers and non-fundraisers across the US and other countries embrace reexamining the problematic philosophies and practices we’ve been upholding, such as poverty tourism, tax avoidance, and the hoarding of wealth that’s been built on slavery, stolen Indigenous land, and other injustices. We have a celebration coming up on August 25th at 11am PT where we’ll reflect on what we learned this year and discuss our hopes for the future of the movement. It’s free; I hope to see you there. Register here.
As CCF grows, we’ve been encountering pushback from colleagues, including the occasional hate message. This is a good sign (although the hate messages might be little too much; come on, at least be more creative with your insults!). We should be having debates and discussions. This is how our sector improves and evolves. Here are some common arguments I and other proponents of CCF encounter repeatedly, both from people who dislike CCF with the intensity of a thousand board meetings, as well as from folks who are genuine in their desire to understand it. I want to summarize and respond to these arguments here so that we can discuss them, but also because some of them are terrible, and we need to reflect on them and then move on, because we have more important discussions to grapple with.
The past few months have been challenging, testing all of us our limits. At the same time, it has also been amazing to see more and more folks owning their complicity and power, being bolder, and challenging established norms. Our communities cannot afford for us to doubt ourselves, be too deferential, or always default to philosophies and processes that we were trained in.
This includes the way we do fundraising. The fundraisers in our sector, of whom I am proud to be one, are dedicated, hardworking, and endlessly creative. We have to be. We know that if we stop, if funding stops flowing, real people’s lives are affected. Thank you to the amazing development professionals in the field, without whom our programs and services would not be possible.
Hi everyone. I am in Oxford, England for the Skoll World Forum, where I’m speaking on a panel. I’m super excited because this is the home of the Oxford Comma! (I think) I just got to my hotel ten minutes ago and am jetlagged and possibly hallucinating a bit. Yes, Paddington, I would love for you to join my board! Anyway, I’m not sure how lucid this post is going to be.
Before we start, though, today April 9th is International Unicorn Day. If you haven’t done so, get your official nonprofit unicorn name and title. Even better, I’m excited to announce that the book Jessamyn Shams-Lau of the Peery Foundation, Jane Leu of Smarter Good, and I are writing is done and will be ready soon! Pre-orders are available on Amazon, for May 15th release, but in the meantime, you can learn more about the book through this Medium article. For bulk orders, please email email@example.com. Thank you so much to everyone who supported this project.
The concept of mission-driven has been well-beaten into all of us. It seems that nothing is more important to our work than our mission. This idea has been baked into everything we do: fundraise, communicate, run programs. Concepts like “mission creep” (which sounds like the name of a really boring super-villain) are designed to instill in us this sense that our individual mission is pure and sacred, and that all of us must have as our highest imperative the unwavering devotion to it.
Hi everyone. After last week’s post, I got a lot of comments, many in support, a few cautiously curious, and some strong disagreement. Which is all awesome, because we can disagree on many things, but I think the conversation around equity as it’s applied to fundraising is much needed. I also want to reiterate how much respect I have for the fundraisers in our field. I’ve said it before that I think you have to be pretty brilliant to be a successful fundraising professional, considering how complex this work is. I also want to reaffirm how much I appreciate donors, and that my critique of donor-centrism in no way precludes respect for donors, just like my critique of inequitable funding practices should not mean a disrespect for foundations or program officers, or my post on how data has been used to perpetuate inequity should not be seen as a dis on evaluators and researchers.
Today, I want to lay out a few preliminary thoughts on Community-Centric Fundraising. I was hoping to work on this further and present a tighter set of principles later, but because so many are curious, I thought I’d set down a few tentative points, based on the conversations and input I’ve had so far. Special thanks to AFP Calgary and Area and Banff Compass 2017, Amy Varga of Varga Consulting, Emily Anthony and Julie Edsforth of Clover Search Works, Erica Mills of Claxon Marketing, my friends in the Seattle chapter of EDHH, my staff, and other amazing colleagues, especially fundraisers of color, who provided thoughts, including disagreement. (It should be noted that the colleagues listed here helped me to think, but it does not necessarily mean they agree with everything presented here).