Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Being Original

In his latest book, Originals, Adam Grant takes us on another wonderful journey. Much like his last book, Give and Take the content within resonates deeply with the fundraising industry. As we discuss the way to bring positive change with our donors and those who we're in relationships with, one thing we have to end is running with scissors. Often times, one of the barriers to implementing powerful change and being an original input organization is complacency. Grant covers this in Originals by using a profound quote, "Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt,” says serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman. “It breeds comfort.” 

Why are we so comfortable with mediocre? What happens when we stop inspiring those closest to us? If you start a new position and begin your activity right where the last person left off because it's easier than to attempt to change, who are you helping? 

I pride myself on being the type of original Grant writes about, the creative one who gets in trouble for beating out risk. Why are we so risk adverse? What do we have to lose by respecting the giving souls we have the privilege of working with? Why not reject common conventions for the possibility of being excellent? 

Channeling that anxiety and fear of change into the new and what could be is our chance to embrace this amazing profession. We have the privilege of working with generous people to provide them the joy of helping others and changing the world. We rob them of this opportunity when we accept the status quo. 

Balancing risk is also important. As Grant points out, taking the risk out of risk taking is the true art behind being original. It's balancing things that you know are true and safe, say for example the fact that you know your donors want to feel appreciated and shown the impact of their gifts, with something riskier, reducing the number of times you solicit and raising the number of times you communicate without asking.
Allowing sureness in one sense allows us to venturesome in another. 

So what do you know for sure? 

How do you display this original creativity in your work? How are you breaking from sameness and conformity to ensure that your donors are engaged deeply and in a meaningful manner with your organization? 

I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Look at you quoted in today's Chronicle of Philanthropy article on "More Non profits Ramp Up Their Donor Stewardship". You go, gurl!!! Congrats

  2. You are inspiring (and hilarious) and I thank you for speaking the truth about getting outside of our comfort zone! Best, Tammy (Grand Rapids MI)

  3. More touch points to show our donors impact. Focusing on stories, not percentages and numbers. More THEM less US. Engaging members of our boards to write thank you notes, phone donors and help us make connections with community partners.