Adopting a New Fundraising Stance

Dan Pallota’s talk at this year’s TED event – The way we think about charity is dead wrong – has touched a nerve in the nonprofit sector.  You have probably already seen the video on Facebook or engaged in one of the many online conversations on social groups like the one run by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  Just in case you missed it, here it is:



Dan challenges the nonprofit sector to think big, take risks, and invest in their fundraising systems.  He challenges donors to stop measuring the efficacy of their donations based on the percentage of their contribution spent on fundraising.  He challenges all of us to invest in the sector that is solving the world’s big challenges - and big problems require big talent and big money.

I too believe that organizations need to step up and invest more in their fundraising success.  At Third Space Studio, we challenge organizations to integrate fundraising into their organization’s overall strategy and habits.  We cajole board and staff members to abandon their fear of asking for money and step up as evangelists for their organization. 

Here are a few of the questions that we use.  You can use these as you think about your own organization and its potential for success:

  1. What is our desired impact?  Is it bold and inspiring?  Is it relevant to the community in which we work?
  2. What strategies is our organization using to achieve our desired impact?  What distinguishes us from others who are working to achieve the same desired impact?  What stories do we tell to showcase the significance of our work?
  3. Who cares about our success and how do we invite them to contribute?  What strategies do we use to attract and retain the contributors who are likely to care?
  4. What tools and talent do we need to maintain real two-way relationships with our contributors?  How much must we invest for the quality that we really need?
  5. Do all of board and staff members know their role in attracting contributions?  How do we ensure that they ready and willing?
  6. What data do we need to monitor to know what is working and not working?  What are our systems for collecting and monitoring this data?

Meredith Emmettis the former executive director of three North Carolina-based nonprofits who now works as a consultant, coach, and teacher to current and future nonprofit leaders.  Based in Durham, Third Space Studio works with nonprofits to increase their effectiveness (919-780-4117). 


Interesting talk with new perspectives. He as much experience. His insights are tested and proven to be worthwhile.

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