Ask Your Donors for Advice. Then Listen!
November 11, 2015
Why I Refuse to Give Up
December 2, 2015

Paris and the Bigger Pie Theory

Living in England has given me a front seat to the tragedy in Paris.

And when my 17 year-old came to ask me about a photo a friend sent of a tweet, supposedly sent from ISIS saying the streets of London would flow with blood in a few weeks, I realized I am not just watching from afar – I’m front and center.

But yesterday I went into London to watch professional tennis at the O2 Arena. Did I think about that ominous screen shot my daughter showed me? Yep. Did I fret a bit when I went through three different security checks? You bet.

But not only am I a diehard tennis fan, I also felt a responsibility to keep to my plan. To support the crazy, fantastic, frenetic, wonderful city that London is. (And by the way, the arena was full).

There are so many people here. And so much beauty and creativity. London seems to have expanded exponentially to include people from everywhere, across generations of conflict and turmoil. The city grows its pie of energy, wealth, and resources bigger and bigger and bigger as more people come. And it thrives.

But the events in Paris are designed to make us all think the pie of goodness, security, and affluence is finite. That it’s getting smaller and smaller. That we all need to grab our own slice before someone else does.

The terrorists want us to close our borders and hunker down. They want to pit people and countries against each other and have us all believe that we’re only safe if we keep others at a distance.

In the nonprofit sector we also have borders that close in the face of increased pressures. We view other organizations as our competition for a bigger slice of the funding pie.

While there is a lot of talk of collaboration in our sector, there is very little of it happening, especially when it comes to raising money.

How many times has a major gift fundraiser introduced a donor to another organization based on the donor’s interest? How many donation pages say, “If you like what we’re doing, you might also want to consider giving to these organizations…” ???

Sure, it sounds crazy. Giving away “your donors” to another organization sounds almost irresponsible. But I believe that’s just what we should do – because no donors are “your” donors. They don’t belong to us.

They are out to change the world – and we need to help them do it. And this just may be by connecting them with another group or cause.

The pie of philanthropy can get exponentially bigger for all of us.

If we are authentic with donors about how we can help them on their journey and if we build bridges of trust with natural and not-so-natural allies to open more doors of opportunity for donors, who knows what new, transformational things could happen in our sector? And isn’t it about time?

Call it courting karma or the power of good intentions, but from my vantage point, when you do something you know is right, it usually comes back around like a boomerang. Maybe not today or this fiscal year, but it does come back. The pie gets bigger.

It would be the easy thing for us all to close our borders and hunker down, but this is a new world in so many ways. Borders are increasingly a thing of the past in the world and they must change in the nonprofit sector.

Think about it. What one step could you do to make the pie bigger at your organization?

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