Holden, a new grantmaker, in the first year or so of giving away his own money, writes:
For-profit marketing might be soulless and salesy, full of people persuading others of what they don’t believe themselves. But nonprofit marketing should be just the opposite. Marketers shouldn’t want to “serve” the donor; they should want the same thing the donor wants. As a nonprofit employee, you’re presumably sacrificing some income to help the particular organization you’ve chosen - that makes you the donor.
Susan Davis's KINS Method seems to address some of what Holden seeks: Donors and nonprofits united in common purpose where each participant is a giver in his or her own way. If we think in terms of a few dozen donors and nonprofit leaders as the epicenter of a field of interest, it would seem that Susan has created a transferable model. In his Beyond Success, Randy Ottinger describes how Michael Milken created such a community around his area of interest, prostate cancer, and how successfully that model has worked. Holden's issue areas are here. Where might he go to tap into a learning and doing community around each? Why is it so hard to get new donors connected to thriving donor networks? Is there or could be there be a clearing house, or is it just a matter of being passed from friend to friend?
Thanks for the thoughts, Phil.
I took a look at the KINS Network. Obviously our project and this one share different priorities. Aside from that, it's hard for me to judge a network by its structure or theory. It seems like it has to be judged by its activity. Is there a lot of dialogue and interaction going on via the KINS Network?
One comment I have about networking with other donors, which will be somewhat predictable, is that I believe more of the interaction should *start* in writing rather than in person. The reason is that, at least for the causes we're doing, there are just SO MANY questions and so much to absorb. It would seem silly to sit down with Habermas never having read a thing by him, and hoping to learn all about his theory of communicative action via conversation - not efficient or respectful - and I'd rather go through his work, understand it, form my own thoughts about it, and then have a conversation with him that could truly go beyond what's written. Analogously, the first thing I'd like to see from funders is publicly publishing their information, analysis, and understanding. That would make it easy for me to dive in, read it all, and then start forming relationships with those whose work is most valuable and interesting to me.
(And that's exactly what we're trying to do via GiveWell - share what we find in writing so we can start a conversation with real substance.)
Posted by: Holden | November 05, 2007 at 07:51 AM
That makes a lot of sense, nice comment. I'm wondering about how public or private these exchanges would be. It's something we have discussed in the past. Online tools can fill the role, if they have levels of privacy and privacy controls appropriate to the context of the discussion.
Posted by: Gerry | November 05, 2007 at 08:02 AM
Gerry - my vote is that they be totally public. The purpose of a charity is to make the world a better place, not to make or raise money; whatever information is relevant should be public.
That said, once you put all your knowledge, decisions, and reasoning on the web, controlling permissions is trivial. Our stuff is restricted right now because we want our grant applicants to be able to look at it before the public does. When the time comes, changing access is a matter of flipping a switch. I can't see why privacy concerns would make anyone hesitate to record what they have, in a form such that outsiders (whether the general public, or by invitation only) can understand it.
Posted by: Holden | November 05, 2007 at 10:46 AM
Thanks, Holden, it would be informative if someone like Albert Ruesga or Joel Orosz who work in the grantmaking were to comment here on the state of collaboration among funders. Where and how do they communicate? Are their archives of what has been done and what has worked? How and where are best practices shared? How does one get included in this idea sharing in specific issue areas?
Posted by: Phil | November 05, 2007 at 01:32 PM