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  • Translator: Ivana Korom Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

  • I'm here today to talk about fundraising,

  • or as you probably think of it, "the other F-word."

  • (Laughter)

  • Because if you want to change the world,

  • you have to know how to pay for it.

  • I'm not talking about being a good person --

  • you can do that for free.

  • I'm talking about if you want to create something,

  • start something,

  • galvanize a community,

  • improve the lives of others, run for office.

  • Every day, great ideas die on the vine,

  • because they don't have capital to get off the ground.

  • And all of the work,

  • the thought, the vision that goes into the idea,

  • isn't worth much if you can't pay your bills.

  • And while most of the greatest social movements in history

  • were powered purely by an idea

  • and people's belief in that idea,

  • real change and impact require resources.

  • Real people do this work,

  • they need real change, real impact and resources

  • to actually make it happen.

  • The people that believe in this work

  • have to have the support and the resources to do it.

  • That's where I come in.

  • I get essential resources

  • into the hands of people and visionaries on the front lines,

  • doing work that matters.

  • We spend the majority of our waking hours working.

  • We spend more time working than we do with our loved ones.

  • So I decided early on that I have to love my work,

  • and it has to add value.

  • And while I would love to be one of these people

  • who spearheads social change from the ground up,

  • the thing I realized early on in my nonprofit career

  • is that the thing I'm good at,

  • the thing I'm really good at,

  • is raising money.

  • And I love it.

  • I think it is a privilege

  • to work alongside bold, ambitious, optimistic leaders

  • and the organizations they serve.

  • So I teach people how to do the thing I'm good at,

  • because the more people that learn how to be good at my end of this work,

  • the more work will get done.

  • And I teach everyone.

  • I teach CEOs and presidents,

  • and boards of directors and EDs.

  • I teach development directors in all sorts of teams

  • and nonprofit newbies,

  • social change agents and candidates.

  • I teach anyone that wants to do something extraordinary

  • how to fund their dream.

  • My dream is that there will be more people like me

  • doing this work well

  • and that development will be an undergraduate course at universities,

  • so that fundraising animals like me will find this job out of the gate,

  • instead of discovering it years later, accidentally.

  • I even have the curriculum developed,

  • but short of overhauling undergraduate course requirements,

  • I think tonight's probably a good first step

  • to get people to think about fundraising

  • more as an opportunity

  • and less as a dirty word.

  • If you want to change the world, you have to know how to pay for it.

  • To do that well,

  • you have to understand three big things.

  • Your feelings about wealth and money,

  • the importance of building relationships,

  • and how to ask for what you want.

  • Let's start at the top, your feelings about wealth and money.

  • What is your relationship to money?

  • Money is complicated,

  • it makes everyone squeamish,

  • it makes everyone act kind of weird.

  • Anyone who's ever had to split the check after dinner with friends

  • can tell you this.

  • Imagine what it was like before Venmo.

  • (Laughter)

  • To help people learn how to raise money,

  • you have to help them understand their deal with money,

  • because everybody has baggage.

  • Grew up poor? Baggage.

  • Grew up rich? Baggage.

  • Mad or envious that other people have more money than you?

  • Baggage.

  • Think people with money are smarter than you?

  • Baggage.

  • (Laughter)

  • Feel guilty that you have more money than other people?

  • That's some first-class baggage.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's still baggage, people, it's still baggage.

  • So whatever your deal is with your baggage,

  • you have to reconcile it

  • if you're going to be able to ask for money.

  • And here's a little tip about asking people for money.

  • The only difference about really wealthy people and us

  • is that they have more money than us.

  • That's it.

  • Don't overcomplicate it.

  • They come with their own baggage.

  • When you think about how to do this work,

  • it's important to remember that money makes the world go round.

  • You hear that all the time, but it's true.

  • Whether you're a nonprofit, for-profit, or you pay your own bills.

  • We often feel like talking about it is this icky, embarrassing, ugly thing,

  • but it's just money.

  • And it's a fact of life.

  • So how you feel about it directly affects how you approach it.

  • Like everyone else when I started out in this work,

  • I had to examine and understand my own feelings about wealth and money.

  • And I had to learn how to separate them

  • from how I feel about raising money for important causes.

  • How I feel about asking for money to help people do good work in the world

  • is not the same as how I feel about asking for money for myself.

  • This is an important distinction.

  • When I go and talk to someone,

  • I'm not asking them to pay my mortgage.

  • I'm giving them an opportunity to invest in an idea

  • that's going to change the world for the better.

  • Why should I feel bad about that?

  • If you want to be good at raising money,

  • you have to be able to reframe the ask,

  • both for yourself and for other people,

  • as an opportunity.

  • Next, you have to get prepared to build some relationships.

  • People give to people, they don't just give to ideas.

  • And if they don't believe in the person running the place,

  • you're already dead in the water.

  • This is true whether you're in stocks or venture capital,

  • politics or nonprofits.

  • Building a relationship with people takes work.

  • You have to care about more than just what you want or need,

  • you have to also value what someone else wants or needs.

  • I know, it's a shocking, terrible idea.

  • But oftentimes, closing gifts is understanding the person,

  • more than it's important to know the product.

  • And if you think building a relationship with people takes work,

  • building a relationship with someone you're asking for money from

  • takes work, and it takes homework.

  • Have you done any research?

  • Do you have any idea what they care about?

  • Do you know why they should invest in your work?

  • Can you answer that question in less than 30 seconds?

  • If you can't, the meeting is going to be pretty rough.

  • And the answer can't be "Because they're super rich

  • and they live in your zip code."

  • When you talk to people and understand what they care about,

  • it has to be in person.

  • Fundraising is relational, it's not transactional.

  • And you have to ask them questions.

  • When I sit down with a donor, it goes something like this.

  • "Hi, thanks so much for seeing me.

  • How have you been?

  • Did you guys go anywhere fun over holiday?

  • Nice, I love Mexico.

  • Do you always go to the same place?

  • Oh, that's awesome!

  • Are those your kids? They're so cute.

  • How old are they?

  • Where are they in school?

  • Oh, that's a great school, are you guys very involved there?

  • Your spouse in on the board? How's that?

  • How did you guys meet?

  • Oh, at Santa Clara, that's awesome.

  • Are you super involved in the alumni network?

  • So interesting.

  • Where do you guys live, again?

  • That's great. Is that your boat?"

  • (Laughter)

  • I literally go through all of these things, right.

  • And you know why?

  • Because guess what I know now.

  • I know they're out of 120 grand a year in schooling for the next 12 years.

  • Right?

  • Spouse is on the board of the kids' school,

  • I know they're out of 100K probably.

  • It's a six-figure.

  • They're both involved in their school alumni,

  • that's probably 25K.

  • They told me they live on the Upper East Side --

  • I can look up their apartment online and find out what their mortgage is.

  • And I know they own a second home in Mexico.

  • Oh, and they own a boat.

  • Which is like funny money, right?

  • So what I now understand --

  • (Laughter)

  • It's true.

  • What I now understand

  • is that their 1,000-dollar gift is probably more of a starter gift.

  • And I should be thinking about ways to help them partner with us

  • and invest in a more meaningful way.

  • I know this sounds a tad mercenary.

  • I'm not confused about how it sounds.

  • But here's what I want to tell you,

  • because this is the part that all my clients always want to skip,

  • because they think it's the fluff and it's not important.

  • If you don't understand what they care about and what they value,

  • how are you ever going to be able to tell them about your work, right?

  • I want them to fund our work, I do.

  • But I also want them to have a really meaningful experience as a donor,

  • so that they feel like we're partners

  • and they're not an ATM, right?

  • So it's important to ask the questions,

  • because the more you know about them

  • and you know what they value,

  • the more you can steer the conversation

  • in a direction about your work that will resonate for them.

  • And once you get past the get-to-know-you part,

  • you get into the fun stuff,

  • like, "Why are you philanthropic at all?"

  • Right?

  • "Why do you invest in new ideas?

  • Do you want giving back to be a value you pass on to your children?

  • Can we help you do that?"

  • It's really awesome, it's meaningful,

  • and remember, it's a conversation,

  • it's not a cross examination,

  • it's not an interview.

  • Don't walk in there and tell them everything you already know about them,

  • because you did your research.

  • You don't get extra points for knowing how to use Google.

  • It's 75 percent them talking,

  • 25 percent you listening.

  • It's better to be a good listener than a good showman.

  • And once you understand what they care about,

  • you can talk to them about what you care about.

  • You can tell them about you.

  • Now, when you do this,

  • don't get too deep into the weeds, or you'll lose them.

  • It's a lot like when I sit down with guys in finance, right,

  • and I say,

  • you know, "How's work?"

  • I'm looking for, like, a thumbs up, thumbs down.

  • But what I get sometimes

  • is a long description of how the markets are trending,

  • and my brain leaves my body

  • and starts to think about what time my dry cleaner closes.

  • (Laughter)

  • Like, I don't have capacity for that.

  • And they don't have capacity for that level detail of our work.

  • If they want it, they'll ask you the questions.

  • It's this thing that happens over and over,

  • because -- here's an example.

  • I worked with this CEO once,

  • and I was hired to teach him how to talk to human people,

  • like a human person.

  • (Laughter)

  • It was a very difficult job.

  • So, he kept getting great donor meetings,

  • and he wasn't closing any gifts.

  • And I could not figure out what the problem was,

  • so finally, I was like, "I'm going to come with you."

  • So I went with him to meetings, and what would happen was,

  • he was getting into such detail with the donors

  • that their eyes were glazing over,

  • and then after he was