Before Asking for Money–Listen!

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Everyday conversation in the United States begins with a customary greeting that goes something like…

listening ear child

“Hi! How are you doing?”

“Fine.  How are you doing?”                                     

“Fine.  Life is very busy.  Have a great day!”

“Yeah, you too!”

This is often where the communication ends, if it goes this far at all. The greeting is automatic; listening–really listening–is rarely involved.  Research, however, indicates adults spend about 80% of their daily time communicating, with 93% being non-verbal communication.  It is estimated that adults engage in listening about 45% of the time.  This is the same proportion of listening time estimated in the 1929 research by Dr. Paul Rankin.

Interestingly enough, with the rise of mass media communication between 1950 and 1980, the amount of listening time increased to over 50%. Since then, the advent of email and social networking has caused a slight increase in reading and writing over listening.

Seasoned fundraising consultant and author, Mal Warwick underscores the importance of listening in fundraising:

Is she a good listener? I’ve never met a fundraiser who was truly successful without being a dedicated and effective listener.  In face-to-face solicitations, listening is essential to understand the way that a donor’s personal values and interests might be linked to a particular project. But listening is just as effective in direct mail, telefundraising, or other forms of direct response: how else could she really come to understand what a project or issue is about, or what motivates donors?

In fundraising, face-to-face conversations are an effective way to build relationships and financial support. Strong relationships are central to a healthy and flourishing community.  Money and energy flow in community.

Those who are gift stonesinitiating the conversations on the part of the organization must practice active listening, which is an essential practice in fundraising and annual stewardship. One place to start is to find out more about what matters most to the prospective giver, listening for ways they connect with the mission and priorities of your congregation. When we ask questions that elicit the positive emotions an individual has about the congregation and its faith values, the more likely he or she will commit to financial support. Only after you listen and learn can you connect the person’s values, commitment, and monetary resources into a compelling reason to give. This practice of intentional and positive communication is called Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry should be a central aspect and practice in congregational stewardship and fundraising.

Listening Tips for Organizational Stewards and Fundraisers:

  • Focus on the people and relationships–learn what is important to them about their involvement, their interests, priorities, and values.
  • Listen attentively–let them know they are worthy of your attention and a valued part of the community.
  • Ask questions that elicit positive feelings about the organization and the faith values–listen carefully for ways to explicitly connect their positive energy, time, and resources to advancing the mission and potential of the organization.
  • Be mindful that there are generational differences, theological perspectives, and tenure of membership factors that may affect your ability to listen and identify with those you talk with–be open to new perspectives and ask for clarification.
  • Take notes on key points for follow up–let them know their input is valued and will be taken into consideration.
  • Ask for their contributions and commitment, then allow time for them to respond.
  • Express appreciation–Thank!
  • Follow up on any key points and report back–this builds trust and accountability.
  • Thank again.

Wishing you success and prosperity~

Laurel Amabile portrait 2

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Resources to Develop Listening Skills for Fundraising:

Warwick, Mal.  Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth from Your Fundraising Staff? 2005.  Mal Warwick Associates.   http://www.malwarwick.com/

Wilson, Thomas D.  Winning Gifts: Make Your Donors Feel Like Winners. 2008.  John Wiley & Son.  An excerpt from the book devoted to the importance of listening in fundraising is found on the Association of Fundraising Professionals:  http://www.afpnet.org/ResourceCenter/

Nurturing Generosity in Children

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The future of society may depend on our ability to make sure our children have the capability for empathy and the inclination toward generosity.

~Patricia O. Bjorhovde

 

 

 

Religious teachings have been highly influential in the development of philanthropic culture and giving practices around the world. Throughout American history, religious philanthropy has prompted social change by addressing the major issues and ills facing society of the times.

Congregations and faith communities fill an important role in today’s society by providing the worship and learning environments to convey the virtues and values of generosity, giving, stewardship and volunteer service. These communities provide a set of religious values and theological teachings to which young learners can link and reflect upon their daily lives. This is part of a our faith formation process as human beings, continuing throughout our lifetimes.

There are three key ways that children learn about generosity and stewardship:

  • Modeled voluntary behavior by a parent or trusted care-giver with the intention to help others. This begins in infancy, through the infant’s experience of caring and sharing which leads to the development of empathy.
  • Cognitive learning opportunities that include thinking, reflection, and discussion on the part of the learner. These stimulate understanding of the cause and effect of giving behavior.
  • Experiential “learning by doing” on the part of the learner—opportunities to engage in giving and serving activities from which they can draw emotional satisfaction and meaning.

How is this done?  Through an intentional educational process that includes:

  • Presenting the concepts and stories that promote understanding of giving, generosity, and stewardship in the life of a community.
  • Identifying the reasons why people choose to give and practicing generosity, and the methods for stewardship and the careful tending of resources.
  • Providing the experiences and opportunities for individual and communal reflection.

Nathan Dungan, former financial advisor, marketing VP, author and creator of the Share, Save, Spend system for personal finance suggests that the marketing message directed at our children is “see money, spend money,” with the emphasis on the micro impact  of satisfying their own needs. They rarely get the macro impact message that balances their spending with saving and sharing in intentional ways:  “the choices we make with our money can change the world.”

There are a variety of helpful materials to help parents and educators create learning experiences and activities that nurture generosity and stewardship in their children and teenage youth. Games and stories, combined with experiential activities to learn these values by doing, are particularly effective teaching tools. The Stewardship Game and links to online resources below offer a starting place for engaging this learning process.

Enjoy! 

 

 

 

Laurel Amabile, CFRE

Giving Speaks

 

 

STEWARDSHIP RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES:

Lodestone Year: Money Unit–Magnetize your Middle School  curriculum by Katie Covey focusing on ways to provide fun and as well as deep teachable moments. The Money Unit focuses on the value of conversations about money as an important part of understanding the control and power of money. With this understanding, commercialism is kept in perspective and money is used as a reflection of one’s values.

Stewardship Game for Unitarian Universalist Children & Youth created by Dr. Bobbie Poole, Credentialed Religious Educator, Master Level (shared with her permission). email:  bobbiepoole@comcast.net

The_Stewardship_Game_Rules    

Stewardship_Game_Board

Stewardship_Game_Cards

Tapestry of Faith the Unitarian Universalist Association’s online curriculum series, particularly the Moral Tales for children and Virtue Ethics for youth.  http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/tales/index.shtml and  http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/youth/virtueethics/index.shtml

Learning To Give features learning and teaching resources to use for all ages, with focused materials for school educators and religious educators.

Share, Save, Spend founded by Nathan Dungan / The website features articles, tips, and resources for all ages, particularly useful for parents, educators, and organizations.

National Center for Family Philanthropy 

Bjorhovde, Patricia O., Editor.  Creating Tomorrow’s Philanthropists:  Curriculum Development for Youth New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, #36, Summer 2002, Jossey-Bass Nonprofit and Public Management Series, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Developmental Stages of Generosity

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Organization’s Philanthropic Culture

Dollar Key Shows Banking Savings And Finance

 In a philanthropic culture all gifts given for the common good are valued, and all givers respected and affirmed. The emphasis should be on engaging the whole person in the common good that comes from their involvement in your organization.*

#1   Embrace Philanthropy—What it is, and What it does

Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. The practice of giving money and time to help others is the heart of philanthropy. The word philanthropy comes from the Late Latin word philanthropia, from the Greek philein (to love) and Anthropos (humanity), and was first known to be used as a term in the early 1600’s.

Voluntary Action for the Public Good is one pithy way to understand that philanthropy is not simply fundraising for worthy causes, and it’s not the same as effective stewardship. It’s these essential practices and more. The central motivation for philanthropic giving is for the common good: to help make people’s lives and circumstances better. And, it is voluntary behavior, not to be taken for granted by any charitable organization.

#2   Form a Philanthropy Team—everyone is essential.

From the receptionist to the Executive Director, everyone on staff is a part of the team that creates the culture of philanthropy reflected in your organization.

If the first person your donor or volunteer encounters in your organization does not understand the importance of philanthropy, you could lose the support you count on to flourish. All those who are in contact with people should be trained in the basics of donor relations and how your organization is funded. If you depend heavily on individual donations, your staff and key volunteers should be well versed and equipped with information about your giving programs.

#3   Philanthropy Begins with the Leadership—100% participation and no less.

origami money heartWhen you assume a leadership role in an organization—particularly board leadership—you must demonstrate your commitment to the financial health of the organization. Every member of the board and financial leadership must make an annual contribution within their means. Every year.

If the organization is not worthy of its leadership’s generosity and support, how can you expect others to give?

#4   Conveying your organization’s mission, vision and values to inspire generosity and loyalty in the hearts of your supporters.

The development of your organization’s philanthropic culture increases your level of sustainability for the long haul. Your strongest supporters will be those who are passionate and committed to what your organization does to make a positive difference in the world.

Ideally, the return on investment in your organization will be the real impact that occurs in people’s lives and communities. If your mission and efforts don’t make a difference or have a positive impact you cannot expect the level of support you want.

#5   Express appreciation with sincerity and enthusiasm

When the organization is accountable to its donors and honors the intentions of their gifts, authentic, caring community is nurtured. Generosity should be celebrated and appreciation should be expressed by leaders in ways appropriate to each donor. Philanthropic culture grows when love of humanity and voluntary action for the common good are exemplified and affirmed as a value and practice of those involved in your organization.

As your organization becomes known for its philanthropic participation and culture, this builds trust and confidence in your organization, as well as its mission and programs.

Laurel Amabile portrait 2

Committed to helping great organizations flourish,

Laurel signature

 

 

 

Laurel Amabile, CFRE

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Related Resources

*Collins, Mary Ellen. Essential Assets. Advancing Philanthropy, Winter 2015.  Association of Fundraising Professionals

Howlett, Susan. Boards on Fire! Word & Raby Publishing. 2010.  Boards on Fire

Payton, Robert L. Philanthropy: Voluntary Action for the Public Good. 

Generosity Fitness–a New Year Resolution for 2017!

Happy New Year text with cookies on the wooden background from aboveIt’s time to add Generosity Fitness to the list of our New Year Resolutions, for the spirit and expression of generosity enhances and deepens all the other aspects of life. Generosity matters.  It inspires giving and brings happiness to our lives.

This tradition of New Year Resolutions arose eons ago, inspired by the legend of the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces. One of the faces of Janus looks to the past and the other to the future. The Romans believed Janus could forgive their transgressions, so they made offerings and promises at the beginning of each new calendar year.  Janus was believed to take notice of these gifts and bless the peoples’ lives for the year.  That’s where the month of January gets its name.

According to a recent NBC News poll based upon Google search terms most used in 2016, the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 are:  Get Healthy, Get Organized, Live Life to the Fullest, Learn a New Hobbies, Spend Less/Save More, Travel, Read More. Not surprisingly, these resolutions are about improving one’s life through good health, learning and see new things, and effectively managing money and material possessions. Essentially, this boils down our drive to experience happiness.

A good deal of research has been conducted about the correlation between altruistic behavior and happiness.  Experiments have been conducted at various universities, including the use of brain scans that track the various pain and pleasure centers affected by altruistic behavior, such as charitable giving, helping others, and volunteer service.

OFireworksur pleasure centers light up not only when we receive money or kindness, but also when we give money away or help another out of compassion. Studies show that those who receive money are more likely to give money away, and in larger amounts than those who have not received money before being asked to give.

One Harvard Business School study looked more closely at the cause and effect relationship between giving and happiness.  Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

So, how might we fulfill our resolution for greater Generosity Fitness in 2017?

  • Make a commitment to a regular practice of giving and volunteering
  • Contribute the cost of your daily coffee to a cause that matters to you–or better yet, the cost of your monthly fitness or golf club membership!
  • A Month of daily acts of giving and kindness
  •  $5.20 or $52 per week for 52 weeks of the year given to your faith community or other worthy organizations
  • Sponsor a program or scholarship that will benefit to those in your community
  • Make a planned gift or bequest to a cause or organization that matters most to you
  • Organize a social fundraising event that brings people with common interests and a desire to make a difference in their community
  • Most of all, use your imagination.  Be creative.  Experience the joy of cultivating generosity in the world!

May this new year bring you many blessings and great abundance~ 

Laurel Amabile portrait 2   Laurel signature

 

 

 

References and Resources for this article:

Anik,  Aknin, Norton & Dunn.   Harvard Business School working paper, Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior.   2009.  http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-012.pdf

Brooks, Arthur C. Who Really Cares.  Basic Books.  2006.

Chan, Amanda L. Huffington Post. 2013.  7 Science-back Reasons Why Generosity is Good for Your Health.

Firestone, Lisa. Huffington Post. 2014. The Benefits of Generosity.

Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior. Authors: Lalin Anik, Harvard Business School Lara B. Aknin, University of British Columbia Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School Elizabeth W. Dunn, University of British Columbia

Smith, Jordan Michael. New Republic. Sept. 2014. Want to Be Happy? Stop Being So Cheap!