Fundraising from the Other Side of the Table

This month I have the privilege of addressing Jewish outreach professionals about fundraising at the Association for Jewish Outreach Programs’ (AJOP) annual convention in Baltimore. Though I’ve spoken about my experiences as a fundraiser, conducted trainings and mentored young fundraisers many times over, this one feels different.

It seems like just a short while ago that I was enthusiastically experimenting with ways to transfer my business development and marketing skills into a fundraising context at The Koby Mandell Foundation under the tutelage of seasoned fundraisers like Shimon Pepper, Richard Freidman and a diverse array of committed major donors. Over time I developed my own style as a fundraiser and was blessed with many valuable lessons from triumphs and mistakes alike. I came to have a new perspective on fundraising that worked well for me – and many others.

In 2010 when I shifted roles at The Koby Mandell Foundation and began consulting, I found myself doing philanthropic advisory work with major donors as well as fundraising and nonprofit management consulting. I’ve worked with numerous foundations and philanthropists since then, eventually accepting the post as executive director of the Mayberg Family Foundation, a grant making foundation with a high impact, entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy and a focus on issues and initiatives impacting how future generations will sustain Jewish values, literacy, practice and belief. From my new vantage point as a foundation exec, I have once again come to see fundraising in a new, more penetrating light. While working with applicants to our foundation on a daily basis I frequently say to myself “If only I knew then what I know now!” Being on the other side of the table and gaining an insider’s view of what it feels like to be a major contributor completely changes the way I look at the fundraising process and the relationships that develop through it.

I’m excited to share some of that perspective first hand at AJOP with the hope that my session will give sincere kiruv professionals added confidence and resolve to do what they have to do to keep their organizations financially viable and their mission going strong. Specifically, we will explore together the half-truth, “fundraising is about relationships,” and shed new light on successful and unsuccessful fund development strategies. We will focus on five specific skills that I have come to believe are keys to exponential growth in professional fundraising performance and organizational impact:

  • Embracing discomfort
  • Earning the right to be persistent
  • Talking openly and intelligently about money
  • Connecting the dots between goals and actions
  • Protecting your sacred self

If you plan to be at AJOP, I would be delighted to see you at the session. If not, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share elements of the presentation here to get your thoughts.

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