How to Have a Winning NBA [Fundraising] Team

NBA and Fundraising Recent columns have focused on questions for employers to ask prospective fundraising employees, and questions for interviewees to ask their interviewers. Our goal: to help all parties understand the critical role of fundraising professionals and what it takes for them to be successful. As a nonprofit executive – or as the person in charge of fundraising for an organization – you need to know what to look for in a candidate when hiring. And, as a fundraising professional you have to know how to ask questions that will reveal whether or not you are joining a fundraising team or if you will be expected to be a miracle worker.

A number of readers reached out to us in past weeks, sharing reactions to these columns along with true confessions. We heard from a development director looking for work because the new executive director doesn’t know fundraising and doesn’t know strategic planning. Another confessed he really hadn’t given his all in his prior position: he never felt a part of the team. Through our work we have heard a common plea from executive directors and board members who talk with us about their staff, asking in exasperation “why don’t they just raise the money?”

Given that it’s NBA playoff season we offer the analogy of basketball. Consider these comparisons.

Great basketball players go beyond scores and defense and are known for how well they elevate the play of their fellow team mates. Think of superstars such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson. The list is long.  Point guards such as the Warrior’s Steph Curry, the Clipper’s Chris Paul and the Spur’s Tony Parker make sure the strengths of each player are brought to the game.

In fundraising it’s the same. Sure there are superstar vice presidents and development directors who exceed fundraising goals year over year. But are they leading a fundraising team? Some are, but some hog the ball, becoming a one person team. These fundraisers don’t take the time to invest in their team members. Think about it: do all members of your team have a chance to play, or are some left consistently sitting on the bench? And, what happens when your top people leave?

A fundraising superstar engages the key players. As the chief fundraising officer he or she is the “play maker,” setting things in motion. He or she takes the time to learn the strengths of team members and figure out how to best deploy these. Fundraising team members include the chief executive or president, board chair, development chair, chief operating officer, chief finance officer, the data management and administrative team, researchers, and proposal writers. All these individuals need to be in motion, working the game plan.

More next week.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five Compelling Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Fundraising Job

Job Application, New Hires, Questions to Ask during an interviewYou’ve been selected to interview for a fundraising position. You’ve read the job description; researched the organization online; you’ve even talked with people who have been involved with the nonprofit over the years. You feel it inside: “this could be my dream job.” Yes, it could. But, it could also be a nightmare.

Read Part One: Five Thought Provoking Questions to Ask a Potential New Hire

Careful interview preparation can help inform your career path and save you some frustration. Listen to your heart, but take the time to develop and ask a few specific questions. This is your opportunity to find out whether or not you will be able to be succeed in the position you are interviewing for. Reflect on past experiences – what made your positions exciting and which made going to work a drudgery. Develop a few questions that you believe will uncover the information you need to make an informed decision.

Here are five to consider.

  1. How is fundraising success measured within this organization? How do you intend to evaluate my work? Beyond meeting the fundraising goal, what are the factors that determine success or failure? If the interviewer doesn’t know these, it may be hard for you to “meet the mark.”
  2. What resources will the organization provide to ensure my success? For example, what percentage of time does the executive director allocate to fundraising on a regular basis? How are board members involved in fundraising, beyond oversight and policy approval? Will I be allowed to contact board members directly? No matter how talented you are you already know that you cannot succeed without leadership’s full engagement.
  3. Is the organization working from a fundraising plan? If selected for a second interview, can arrangements be made for me to review the plan before that interview? Is your current fundraising volunteer led or is it staff led? Again, if the interviewer doesn’t know that should be a red flag.
  4. Did the organization meet its annual fundraising goal last year? Were there any “extraordinary” gifts that impacted the final numbers? Related questions can include: what was the annual goal? Was it meaningfully larger or smaller than the prior year? Was the annual goal met in the prior year? How is the annual goal determined, and by whom? These questions will reveal the extent to which the interviewer knows and understands fundraising.
  5. Please share with me the specific fundraising skills and experience you expect from the person you hire. Answers to this question can quickly reveal if your experience is a fit.

Here’s the bottom line: if you are reporting to someone who doesn’t know fundraising it may be a challenge for you to be successful. It’s better to know before you start a new position.

Additional reading on  career success as a fundraising professional: 

5 Things to Consider Before Accepting a Fundraising Position

How to Keep a Fundraising Job

Fundraising Fables: Retaining Fund Development Professionals  

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

How to Hire a Fundraiser

Image courtesy of phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Five Thought Provoking Questions to Ask a Potential New Hire

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, fundraising jobs, how to hire a fundraiser, interview questions, Saad&ShawNeed a magic cure for nonprofit fundraising blues? Hire fundraising staff. That’s it. Problem solved. Time to get back to what we were focusing on before we “got sidetracked” into all this fundraising. Ah…. if only that were the case.

If you have funds to hire staff how will you know you are hiring the right person? How will you evaluate this person? Will you know how to manage and coach your new hire? Will you depend on their progress reports to know whether or not they are “doing their job?”

We raise these questions because we have found many organizations seek to build a fundraising program or increase their fundraising by making a new hire. That can be the right solution, but there are other prerequisites that need to be in place for a fundraising professional to be successful. Alas, making a hire is not the silver bullet!

Earlier columns address things to consider when hiring. You can find links at the bottom of this post. In this column we offer five questions to ask during the interview process. A candidate’s responses can provide insights to help you determine who is best qualified to help you meet your fundraising goals.

  1. How do you feel about asking for money? This is really at the core of fundraising. Feelings about money – and people who have money – color many people’s consciousness and can interfere with fundraising. At a basic level being afraid to ask for a gift means a fundraising professional may hesitate when soliciting. Confusing one’s own economic conditions with those who have more can cloud a solicitation with an unconscious attitude of “they have enough, they should just give us some.”
  2. Share with me a professional or volunteer project you started and developed into something meaningful that you are proud of. Please share the challenges you faced, the solutions you proposed, and lessons learned.
  3. How do you want to be evaluated at the end of your first year working with our organization? Answers to this question can provide insights into what is important to a candidate, and how they evaluate their work.
  4. What resources and support do you believe you would need to succeed in this position? Learning a candidate’s expectations can help you prepare to bring him into your organization. You may also learn that you need to be better prepared to work with a professional, or that he has expectations you may not be able to meet.
  5. How would prepare for this position? This lets candidates know you expect them to prepare: success in a new position is a two-way street. How a person prepares for a new job may also reveal how they prepare for a solicitation or new campaign.

Additional reading on hiring fundraising professionals:

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nonprofit Fundraising Professional

How to Hire a Fundraiser

Fundraising Fables: Retaining Fund Development Professionals  

To Hire or Plan? Which come first

Next week: Five questions for job candidates to ask!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

The Effect of a Butterfly Gift

Butterfly Effect, Saad and Shaw, Paying It Forward, Random Acts of KindnessThis is what we’ve heard – when a butterfly flaps its wings it can start a hurricane on the other side of the world. The idea being that a tiny movement can initiate unanticipated activities. We hope you will join us in a burgeoning butterfly movement of unintended positive consequences.

Here’s the back story. We were watching the show CBS Sunday Morning when we saw a segment of Chris Rosati of Durham North Carolina. He is living with ALS and chose – on a whim – to give two girls at a restaurant $50 each. He asked them to each do something kind for someone else. It was a no-strings gift to girls he might not ever see again. The girls gave the money to a village in Sierra Leone where they knew villagers were fighting ebola. And, they shared their experience with Rosati, who had never thought he would hear from them. He was so delighted he has announced plans to give out butterfly grants – $50 each – to kids who want to change the world.

Needless to say we were moved. We have vowed to be butterfly agents! That means giving people we know and love a gift that is equal to or greater than the amount we would have spent on a gift, and asking them to do something good for someone else. It will cut down on the challenges of trying to find the perfect gift. More seriously we want to be part of this new “butterfly movement.”

And, we want you to consider being a butterfly! You may never know what you set in motion, but we feel it will be something good. Here’s our plan: first birthday on our calendar is our nine year old niece. We will give her the gift money, ask her to do something nice for someone else, and ask her to let us know what she did. She may tell us, she may not.

Our goal is for her to contemplate “who can I help?” We look forward to learning her. Our hope is that the adults we touch with this type of gift – and the ones you touch – will also have a child-like moment of stopping and pondering, “what can I do for someone else?”

It’s an intriguing proposition. The money is suddenly in your hands. You don’t have to decide how much to give, just who to give to. It’s different from being asked to make a gift to a nonprofit – though that’s a good choice. And of course there’s the chance that once receiving such a gift you – or your friends – will choose to give others such a butterfly gift.

View the Chris Rosati video online at ButterFly Gift.

Image courtesy of akeeris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

How to Transform Fundraising Challenges to Success

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

CEO Dr Coopwood, co-chair Susan Arney, Tammie Ritchey, co-chair Sally Pace, Regional One Health Foundation

Challenging finances and what feels like an onslaught of “bad press” can be part of the nonprofit experience. Addressing these is what leadership is all about. Keep an eye to the future, talk with your donors and stakeholders, and find a game-changing way to engage the community. This is the story of Regional One Health and its foundation.

Tammie Ritchey, Vice President of Development and Executive Director of Regional One Health Foundation in Memphis Tennessee knows what it’s like to be part of a team that weathers the storm and emerges with stronger leadership, new visions, strategy, partners and donors. She credits her board, new leadership and engaged donors with the turn around of what was once The MED and is now Regional One Health.

First, executive leaders took time to personally share strategic directions and vision with major donors, keeping them in the loop. The foundation board played a major role too, and continues to do so. Ritchey credits their leadership and initiative, sharing “They help develop strategies and tactics that raise the money needed to advance the system’s goals.  They are our advocates, providing guidance and vision.” And they recruit new board members.

Ritchey proudly promotes the foundation board, “I sincerely believe we have one of the strongest board of directors around.  They are all quite brilliant in their own lives outside of the board and very successful men and women.  They are dedicated to Regional One Health, they believe in the vision, and they all work passionately on our behalf.  They challenge me every day to go harder, to push further, to give more to the patients and families we serve.  “And we have several members who held on with us during some very challenging times. It was very difficult to be on a fundraising board and not be able to raise a lot of funds because of the public’s perception of the hospital at that time.”

Read Part One:
How to Have a Visible and Active Foundation

But that has changed. The foundation now hosts a sell-out gala that is nothing short of spectacular. How did it get started? By a board member! “The gala started when then board member, Leigh Shockey, asked her friend, legendary producer David Guest to bring a soul review that he was doing in London to Memphis and allow the money raised to go to the then MED.  He agreed and she recruited board member Susan Arney to assist her with this.  The first gala had 14 artists and was put together in eight weeks!,” Ritchey explains.

“We used the gala specifically as a way to challenge and change the business community’s and donor community’s public perception of us.  It’s very important that our gala guests have a one-of-a-kind, first class experience – just like what we strive for with our patients and their families when they use our services. The first year we held the gala people said they were happy to support us, but they were unsure about what the experience would be like – so in a way it was a bit of a test.”

Robert (Kool) Bell, Regional One Healthcare Foundation, Saad&Shaw

Pictured: Robert (Kool) Bell

The foundation clearly passed the test, as the event is an annual sell out with people who literally buy their tables a year ahead of time.  And the health system has passed the test as well, Ritchey adds. “Patients used to be reticent about using our services, but once they get on campus and have their first experience with us they are thrilled with their care and outcomes and trust us for their healthcare needs.”

To close out our interview we asked Ritchey what two things she wants readers to know. Here are her words:

“Regional Health One handles cases that some physicians can go a lifetime without ever seeing or experiencing…in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics… we are national industry leaders.  We are creating an institution that our community needs and deserves but that does not currently exist. With our partners (donors, advocates, physicians) we will transform health care in this region.”

“Much of what is considered national industry best practices in the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology, and high risk obstetrics, were developed here at Regional One Health.  In the areas of trauma, burn, neonatology and high risk obstetrics, we are national leaders and our physicians are sought after for their industry knowledge and expertise.”

Here’s to a bright future for Regional One Health. We salute your vision and leadership.

Answers to our readers’ frequently asked questions:
Q. Does your board have a giving requirement?
A. All board members are required to give financially each year.

Q. Does your board have term limits?
A. Yes.  Members are eligible to serve two consecutive three year terms.

Q. Are all event costs underwritten?
A. No – I wish! We are working on building that up.  This event is just four years old – but we have made money every year.

Q. What is the primary source of funding for the foundation?
A. It varies each year but last fiscal year it was foundations and individuals.

Q. What is the relationship between the CEO of Regional One Health and the foundation?
A. The CEO of the system serves as the President of the Foundation board.

Q. What awards has the medical center received recently?
A. We were just named to Becker’s Healthcare just announced that we are one of the 150 best places to work in the nation.

Here’s all their information:
Regional One Health
877 Jefferson Avenue | Memphis, TN 38103
901-545-8373
Web: www.regionalonehealthfoundation.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RegOneHealthFDN
twitter:@RegOneHealthFDN

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

How to Have a Visible and Active Foundation

Tammie Ritchey, Healthcare Revitalization, Regional One Health Foundation

Pictured: Tammie Ritchey, Regional One Health Foundation

Healthcare is always in the news: advances in healthcare technology, groundbreaking research, and healthcare disparities are just a few. Yet there’s one story we rarely hear: the role of hospital or medical center related healthcare foundations. These foundations play important roles in communities across the country, bringing together leadership, vision, money and initiative to help improve the delivery of healthcare.

Wanting to learn more we spoke with Tammie Ritchey, Vice President of Development and Executive Director of Regional One Health Foundation in Memphis Tennessee. For the past 10 years Ritchey and the foundation board of directors have worked behind the scenes to help improve healthcare across the mid-South.

We started our conversation wanting to know – in general terms – the role of a foundation in the life of a nonprofit healthcare system. Not surprisingly, fundraising is a foundation’s most obvious role. Foundations raise money for research, new buildings, and investments in projects that improve patient outcomes and increase employee training, and more. But, according to Ritchey, fundraising isn’t always the most important role.

“A less visible role is the work of keeping the mission and vision of the healthcare system in the public’s mind,” Ritchey shared. “The relationships a foundation  forges with donors translates into the making of very strong advocates for not only the system it represents but also for improved community health care.”

Here’s an example she shared, related to the health system’s challenges in 2010, and how things have changed.  “The system was losing a great deal of money; we were downsizing staff, looking at service lines to cut, and working with an interim executive team for a couple of years.  Now, we have stable permanent leadership, progressive minded thought provoking visionary leaders who have created a clear mission and vision for the system, and are putting together the strategies to make the vision a reality.  We have a formal physician’s group to care for our patients now, which we did not have before, and all team members are playing from the same play book, all pointed in the same direction.”

Communication and relationships were key to changing the situation. “During difficult economic times, the foundation spent a great deal of time communicating what was going on inside the walls of the hospital with those who support us. We helped tell the story that was not getting told in the papers. We were able to strengthen a lot of relationships with community leaders even though we were not raising a lot of money. With the changes in our financial situation, we are now raising a great deal more money, and much of that is because we had established such strong relationships with donors during our lean years.”

You can learn more about Regional One Health Foundation at www.regionalonehealthfoundation.org or by calling (901) 545-8773.

Next week: the role of the board

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

9 Ways to Keep Your Dream Job a Blessing

Friend or Foe Networking

 

You’ve landed your dream job. Your next step: make sure it doesn’t become a nightmare. Consider these nine ways to tap your network.

 

  1. When sharing news of your new position with friends and family, don’t forget to ask for guidance. Most people want to support your success: the biggest challenge is asking the right people for the right things. Don’t ask one person for everything you want to know. Ask one or two questions from a diversity of people in your network.
  2. Consider those areas that might be a challenge in your new position. Request recommendations for conferences and workshops your peers have found valuable. There are many to choose from, but an experienced fundraiser, executive or college president will refer you to ones that are specifically relevant to your position, rich in content, and that include opportunities to build your network.
  3. Ask for a view of the road ahead. Meet one-on-one with individuals who are more experienced and who have a successful track record. Ask about the obstacles you may be up against, and how to overcome them. Too often we don’t know what we don’t know and then feel “blindsided” by events that are actually par for the course.
  4. Create an advisory council of friends, associates and peers. Call on these people proactively as you develop strategies. Depending on the opportunity you may want to talk with someone who knows your community, or someone from out of town who won’t be competing for the same resources.
  5. Expand your advisors to include people who can help you manage stress. In fundraising – as with many other businesses – stress can take you out. Include your personal trainer, life coach, minister or prayer partner as an advisor.
  6. If you are married or in a committed relationship ask your peers about how they include their spouse in their many work-related commitments and how they protect their relationship from the strains that a fundraising career can impose. Ask now, don’t wait until the stresses pile up.
  7. Create a “listening tour.” Talk to people in your department, across the organization and community. Learn the good and the bad related to your position and ask “how can I be most successful?” If possible, talk with your predecessor.
  8. Put what you learn to practice. After all the talking create a plan for your first three months on the job. Map out how you will use the guidance and information you have gained.
  9. Once on the job, create a climate where people can make suggestions. Whether the old fashioned suggestion box or its electronic counterpart, stay open to suggestions and you will grow in your career.

Whether taking a position as a development director, data manager, or executive director the time to ask – and listen, listen, listen – is now.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Unlock the Reasons for Starting a Capital Campaign

Time for QuestionsLet’s be honest. Do you really know why your nonprofit is running a “capital campaign?” Does your institution have specific capital needs such as buildings or equipment that it needs to invest in? Could it be your nonprofit is really running a “we need a lot of money campaign” or an “everyone else has done it” campaign?

Here’s what we’ve learned. The most well-intentioned of people are often afraid to question the assumptions underlying a capital campaign. While many of us have a strong drive to “save face,” that urge can put the organizations and institutions we believe in at risk. Our advice: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are a three to consider.

Have there been conversations at the board level with reports from the finance committee on the costs, variables, timeframes, and projected impact? Is there a budget to support the operations of the campaign, or will staffing, marketing, technology, events, and consultants be paid for “as the money comes in.”

Is your executive director – or college president – seeking to leave a legacy by launching a capital campaign? Our question – will she or he launch a campaign or successfully complete the campaign? There is a slight difference, one that usually reveals itself when the books are presented to the incoming executive.

How exactly are you counting the money? Is your institution counting progress towards its building campaign with annual gifts that were spent last year? You know our question: who can spend a dollar twice? Don’t be afraid to question the numbers or ask for a detailed report instead of a summary report.

Here are some cues you need to start asking questions:

  1. The board is being asked to approve borrowing money that will be paid back with funds from the capital campaign.
  2. Your organization is unable to meet its annual fundraising goal.
  3. There is no pool of current or prospective major donors.
  4. The board is being asked to approve a campaign in spite of a feasibility study that recommends against doing so because of a lack of identified donors, capacity, infrastructure, resources and leadership.
  5. The board is not a fundraising board, fundraising staff is minimal and turns over regularly.
  6. Your questions are answered with statements such as “we can’t afford the time it will take to conduct a feasibility study, develop a case, recruit volunteer leadership… [fill in the blank]….”
  7. Another dangerous response: “I feel we can do it… we just have to step outside our comfort zone.”

We have seen churches, colleges, and community-based nonprofits plunge into capital campaigns only to awaken years later as if from a nightmare.

That doesn’t have to be the fate of your nonprofit: ask questions, and then ask some more.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

Women and philanthropy

Women and philanthropy“Women rock!” “Women rule!” “If you want something done, ask a woman.” “Women hold up half the sky.” Its women’s history month and time to highlight women’s role as philanthropists and fundraisers.

Join us in paying tribute to women and girls who nurture and support families and communities across the country and around the globe. Sometimes we are recognized, often we are not. We are the grandmother putting money in her granddaughter’s pocket as she heads off to college. We are girl scouts selling cookies, sorority sisters raising money for scholarships, and girls running in St. Jude’s fundraising marathons across the country.  We are Oseola McCarty, a Hattiesburg Mississippi washerwoman, giving $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi, and Wylodine Taylor Patton the alumna leaving $487,500 to LeMoyne-Owen College. We are Helen LaKelly Hunt and Ambassador Swanee Hunt launching “Women Moving Millions,” encouraging women to give $1 million gifts and raising over $500 million to change the lives of women and girls. We are Gayle Rose creator of Team Max, a “vigilante philanthropy” group of young people giving to others in honor of her generous son Max who lost his life in a car accident.

We give as individuals, and we give collectively through women’s foundations and giving circles. We are the Women’s Funding Network, founded 30 years ago, and now the largest philanthropic network in the world devoted to women and girls with 160 members from 30 countries on six continents. We promote philanthropy, encouraging others to give through online portals such as Black Gives Back, started by Tracey Webb, a woman of course.

We are presidents and CEOs of regional and national foundations, setting the philanthropic agenda, funding research and making grants that affect every aspect of life. We are Jan Young (The Assisi Foundation of Memphis), Judy Belk, (The California Wellness Foundation), Risa Lavizzo-Mourey (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), Carol S. Larson (David and Lucile Packard Foundation), Patricia E. Harris (Bloomberg Philanthropies), Audrey Yamamoto (Asian Pacific Fund) and Helene D. Gayle (CARE).

As professional fundraisers we raise funds for social organizations, political parties, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, arts institutions and more. We are Jann Honore, a fundraising executive with more than 30 years experience with UNCF raising money for generations of college students. We are Maricar Boyle, focused on health, education and the environment; Dionne Jackson with Lehigh University; Gurdeep Sihota He’Bert, executive director State Center Community College Foundation; and Iris R. Ramey, Vice President for Development, Hampton University. We are Marianne G. Briscoe, President and Managing Director of Brakeley Briscoe, a leading fundraising consulting firm that provides services across the Americas.

The list of women who make a difference is longer than long. If you want to meet a woman philanthropist, look in the mirror or into the eyes of the women and girls in your life.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

The Psychology of No: How it affects your determination

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, fundraising for the arts, theatre fundraising, Lion King, Russell Brown, Saad&Shaw

Russell Brown

You’re trying to raise money. You know who could provide the funds. You set personal appointments, talk with people in person. You know you have a good project that will make an impact. And all you hear is “no.” When do you give up? Russell Joel Brown heard no 75 times before he got to “yes.”

He could have given up earlier, but he didn’t. It’s just not who he is. A singer, dancer, and actor he didn’t give up when auditioning for Disney’s “The Lion King.” Russell auditioned 10 times over ten years. The “yes” was elusive. He toured the United States, Europe, Mexico, and Japan with “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.’” But each time he auditioned for “The Lion King” the producers couldn’t figure out how to cast him.

A member of the Brown family from Augusta GA Russell is also committed to his parents and siblings. When it came time to care for his father and then his mother he took a break from touring and became a caretaker. He also continued to perform, this time in local productions, fundraisers and cabarets. His unstoppable creativity expressed itself in “From Mozart to Motown” the one-man show he developed in 2002 in Augusta.

It’s one thing to create a show, it’s another thing to secure the resources required to produce it. That’s where Brown’s vision and determined optimism made a difference. After getting his 75th “no” he didn’t give up. Number 76 was Peter Knox, IV, the owner of D Timms Jazz Cafe. Knox said yes, but not as an investor or underwriter. He wanted his cafe to be the sponsor. And so D. Timm’s and Comcast proudly present From Mozart to Motown – An Evening with Russell Joel Brown sold out the Imperial Theatre in Augusta, bringing an integrated audience to Brown’s one-man revue.

Brown is committed to the arts and to ensuring young people can grow their talents. When on the road he takes the time to bring his Project Inspire program to schools and arts organizations. He shares videos from the Lion King, tells his story, and encourages children and youth to focus on their talents. He offers guidance in the business side of life as an actor, talking with them about preparation, reputation and how to negotiate.

Brown is a Morehouse man, and while in college was a member of the Morehouse College Glee Club and Morehouse Quartet. Before that he began his dance training as a young child at the Augusta Ballet School, following in the footsteps of his sister Karen Brown who went on to become the principal ballerina for Dance Theatre of Harlem from 1973 – 1995. His life is committed to theatre and the next generation.

You can reach Brown at THREATS3@aol.com .

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.