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 “One thing that I have generally noted during my time in the sector is that fundraisers and nonprofits sometimes are scared or anxious about being honest with their donors. They hesitate to tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly. We generally want to put our best foot forward, even when that may be a fuzzy version of the truth.”  
– Rachel D’Souza

Episode #178

Overview

In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

Embrace a revolutionary fundraising approach that champions equity, transparency, and authentic collaboration with communities. Together, let’s spark impactful change with Rachel D’Souza!

Rachel D’Souza is a pioneering force in the nonprofit realm, renowned for her transformative initiatives. As the founder of Gladiator Consulting, she spearheads innovative strategies for nonprofits nationwide. Rachel is a trailblazer in the Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) movement, advocating for radical collaboration, racial equity, and social justice. Her leadership extends to the global stage as a member of the CCF Global Council. Rachel is also the president-elect of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater St. Louis Regional Chapter. Committed to nurturing future leaders, she actively engages with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and EPIP.

Throughout the episode, Rachel shares compelling insights and practical advice for fundraisers and nonprofit professionals seeking to align their work with community needs and values. She delves deep into fundraising, challenging traditional notions, and exploring innovative approaches prioritizing community needs and values. With insightful commentary and personal anecdotes, Rachel unpacks the dichotomy between donor-centric and community-centric fundraising, shedding light on the power dynamics and systemic challenges embedded within the nonprofit sector.

Drawing from her wealth of experience as a nonprofit consultant and advocate for transformative change, Rachel emphasizes the importance of authentic relationships and transparent communication between fundraisers and donors. She skillfully navigates complex topics such as honesty, vulnerability, and inclusivity, urging listeners to reconsider their fundraising strategies and embrace a more holistic, justice-oriented approach.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • This week’s episode is sponsored by NeonOneNeonOne is revolutionizing the way nonprofits connect with their communities. Their platform isn’t just about technology; it’s about crafting unforgettable generosity experiences. Learn more about how they’re empowering nonprofits like yours at neonone.com/mallory

  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

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Get to know Rachel D’Souza:

Rachel D’Souza is the founder of Gladiator Consulting, a boutique firm serving nonprofits across the country. Through Gladiator, Rachel has served as an innovator and pioneer in the Community-Centric Fundraising movement, a global initiative to reimagine the nonprofit sector through a lens of radical collaboration, racial equity, social justice, and decolonization. Rachel is a proud member of the Community-Centric Fundraising Global Council, a body of 25 individuals helping guide and resource the movement. Additionally, Rachel is currently the president-elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater St. Louis Regional Chapter and has been an active supporter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and EPIP -Emerging Professionals in Philanthropy. 

Rachel brings attention to the incredible work happening in the St. Louis region. Her thought leadership has appeared in Blackbaud Institute’s 2021 npExperts publication The Great Reset, NeonOne’s 2022 report, Donors: Understanding The Future of Individual Giving, and on the Season 4 premiere of the Ethical Rainmaker podcast.  She has raised awareness of the potential for transformation in our sector through webinars and panel conversations in partnership with Bloomerang, the Independent Sector, BBCon, numerous AFP chapters, and this spring, will host a session and the Collective Impact’s Forum’s Collective Impact Action Summit.

Rachel is the proud mama to her two children, Cameron and Emelia, and makes her home in the Shaw Neighborhood. Rachel enjoys spending time with her kids, Peloton workouts, and Instagram. Currently, she is pursuing her second Master’s Degree at the Washington University School of Law and upon completing her studies in 2024, hopes to build more transformative connections between the nonprofit and public sectors.

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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

MALLORY ERICKSON

Episode Transcript

Rachel D’Souza: [00:00:00] When we crack the door open for something different, you will get people that will say, yeah, I’ve been ready. You’ll get people that will say, I’m curious, but I didn’t know what that looked like, and you will have donors that will say, yeah, I’m not interested in that. This is not the conversation I want to have with you.

Rachel D’Souza: And all of those things are okay, because it’s what’s true. It’s what’s happening between our organization and the donor. We have a decision to make about where we invest in. Our time, our resources, our energy to make sure that whatever resources we’re organizing actually get our communities what they need.

Mallory Erickson: Hey, my name is Mallory and I’m obsessed with helping leaders in the nonprofit space raise money and run their organizations differently. What the fundraising is a space for real and raw conversations to both challenge and inspire you. Not too long ago, I was in your shoes. Uncomfortable with fundraising and unsure of my place in this sector.

Mallory Erickson: It wasn’t until I started to listen to other experts outside of the [00:01:00] fundraising space that I was able to shift my mindset and ultimately shift the way I show up as a leader. This podcast is my way of blending professional and personal development. So we as a collective inside the nonprofit sector can feel good about the work we are doing.

Mallory Erickson: Join me every week as I interview some of the brightest minds in the personal and professional development space to help you fundamentally change the way you lead and fundraise. I hope you enjoy this episode. So let’s dive in.

Mallory Erickson: Welcome everyone. I’m so excited to be here today with Rachel D’Souza. Rachel, welcome to What the Fundraising. I am so excited to be 

Rachel D’Souza: here, Mallory. 

Mallory Erickson: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited for our conversation. Why don’t we start with you just telling everyone a little bit about you and your work and what brings you to our conversation today?

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah, that’s wonderful. I think like any woman, I wear multiple hats. So I am the founder and principal of Gladiator Consulting, which is [00:02:00] a nonprofit consulting firm located in St. Louis, Missouri. We really have the goal of re imagining. What nonprofit work, what fundraising work looks like across the social sector in the United States.

Rachel D’Souza: So we do a lot of resource organizing and development, a lot of planning, a lot of building equity within organizations. And then I sort of say that we have this like fourth category that. Is sort of like likely to fail, but we’re going to try anyway, because we’re going to learn something. So this like nebulous fourth area of work, I also am really honored to sit on the global council for the community centric fundraising movements and just started a term, uh, as board president for our AFP chapter here in St.

Rachel D’Souza: Louis. And I’m very excited to be the first person of color to hold that role here. As we go into our 50th anniversary year. 

Mallory Erickson: Wow. That’s a lot of hats. And I know those aren’t even 

Rachel D’Souza: all the hats. And there are more. I’m not even going to talk about like my mom hat, my like Peloton hat, my like [00:03:00] person that plans the parties hat, you know, the big sister hat.

Rachel D’Souza: There’s many. There’s many. 

Mallory Erickson: Yes. 

Rachel D’Souza: Yes, 

Mallory Erickson: but I’m so grateful for the work you do in our space and the way that you show up in our space. And I’ve been thinking a lot about, you know, we hear the term community thrown around a lot, not just in terms of community centric fundraising, but just building community in general.

Mallory Erickson: And it’s mixed with a lot of other buzzwords like belonging and connection and. And we, we sort of treat these terms as if they mean the same thing to everybody in all contexts and through all lenses. And I think more and more, we’re seeing evidence of how not true that is. And so I’m curious for you, like, when you think about what it means to be sort of in connection, in community, What is your lens around that relationship?

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. You know, thanks for the easy 

Rachel D’Souza: softball question to get us started. [00:04:00] I’m so sorry. I just go right there. I love it. You know, I think in the last, you know, five or so years, just living in a lot of turmoil and upheaval, uh, and obviously pandemic life in this country, like, The term and the word community and what we understand it to mean has shifted and changed countless times, and I’m sure it’s going to continue to change, right?

Rachel D’Souza: I think for some duration of time, it was easy for people to think about community as those who were proximate to them, right? We were living with, going to school with, working with, and over the course of the last few years, We’ve heard things like the shift from self care to community care start to show up in our vocabulary.

Rachel D’Souza: So who are the people that we trust to care for us? The people that we trust to respect our boundaries. We also see community start to come up. With the things that we are [00:05:00] interested in, right? So you even have these virtual spaces that are people that love to cook and share recipes or you know Running group or working moms, right?

Rachel D’Souza: So we have these similar pieces of our identity though. We might not even be proximate to these people, right? They could be all over the place What I have started to hear less about right is that You People in our community tend to look like us and they share the same values and maybe we have the same experiences, but less and less do I find the community means sharing space with people who look differently or think differently or have different experiences.

Rachel D’Souza: And I actually think that as we throw this word community around, we forget The benefits that we can experience from being in a relationship with people that [00:06:00] are different from us in a lot of ways. Ooh, 

Mallory Erickson: okay. I knew if I went there with you, you were going to go there with me. And I think, I think what you’re talking about here is so, is so interesting and so important, especially maybe as it relates to that question, the relationship between how we feel connected or connection and belonging and community.

Mallory Erickson: Because my guess would be that connection maybe feels more vulnerable when we’re in community spaces with folks who don’t have the same lived experience as us, look different than us, have different opinions than us. And so what does it look like then to build connection and community? Like what is necessary to build those spaces in ways that are safe and account for Inclusion and belonging of everyone who arrives [00:07:00] there.

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah. So, you know, it makes me think of growing up here in St. Louis, my parents immigrated to, uh, the United States in the late seventies, my brothers and I were born in St. Louis and from a very early age, I understood looking around at my proximate community. That there were a lot of people who identified as white and middle class that were proximate to me actually sort of lived on the sort of main street that if you turned left, you would eventually drive into sort of the whiter, wealthier parts of our community.

Rachel D’Souza: And if you turned right, you would drive into the more disinvested, marginalized people of color and immigrant part of our community. So I literally. Felt like I was in the middle, but I also didn’t have a lot of other people that looked like me. So as a child growing up, sort of in [00:08:00] this, in middle, literally sort of the other, other, what you wind up having to do is figure out what you have in common with people who might not look like you or sound like you or smell the way your food smells right in your home or wear the same clothes.

Rachel D’Souza: But that you might have common interests, you might have common passions, you might enjoy going to the same park, right? Like, how do we get past the things that, in some ways, arbitrarily separate us? And get to what we have in common so that we can learn from each other, even when we feel like things, you know, don’t always align.

Rachel D’Souza: Hmm. What do you 

Mallory Erickson: think it is? I love hearing that about your story, too. And I’m curious, like, what do you think it is? That inhibits people like you were very much. It’s not, you know, forced into a situation that sort of [00:09:00] required you to build relationships in that way. Yeah. What do you think inhibits people from exposing themselves to communities or environments that would encourage that type of relationship building?

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah, I think it can go a couple different ways. I think we all like to be comfortable and it is a choice that we make to experience being uncomfortable or experiencing discomfort. And I think most people, when you think about everything all, you know, that we’re juggling in the world are generally going to pick the path of least resistance.

Rachel D’Souza: I think it’s just sort of who we are as humanity, right? And so we do tend to be attracted to things that feel safe and are like us. And in some ways I think that keeps us really safe and I use safe in a positive way. Right. I also think that we want our experiences to be seen, that we [00:10:00] want to be seen as humans, that we want to be valued for our experience.

Rachel D’Souza: We want to be valued for the things that we share. And when you’re navigating situations with people who might not be like you, it may be harder to show up vulnerably. I think sort of on the other side of it, there’s a lot of privilege tied up in who we consider community or who doesn’t get to be part of our community or who doesn’t have a seat at our table.

Rachel D’Souza: So, you know, there’s sort of this other part of it of also opting not to be a part of specific communities or tables. That, you know, makes it harder for us, I think, as proximate communities or communities of thinkers or communities who are sharing values to learn and grow with each other. And so, you know, you sort of bring up this concept of belonging.

Rachel D’Souza: And for me, it’s like, what does that mean and how much do I need to feel that [00:11:00] versus when is it healthy for me, a person that is both marginalized and has privilege to experience what it feels like to belong or to not belong. Like, I find that to be a really rich experience personally that helps me navigate.

Rachel D’Souza: Communities better. And for some people, that’s really terrifying to think like I could be vulnerable and I might not belong, or I might be vulnerable and people are telling me like, actually, no, you don’t belong in this space. This is not for you. 

Mallory Erickson: Okay. I really appreciate the way you’re talking about kind of how community forms across.

Mallory Erickson: like in different ways that it used to be more sort of like proximate and then now like they’re, you know, value based communities and sometimes identity based communities. And so I’m curious because I feel like when I hear people talk about Or explore or think about exploring community centric fundraising that the [00:12:00] organizations that I think that I see maybe lean more quickly into the idea that that could be a path forward are people who are organizations that exist in and fundraise from more proximate communities.

Mallory Erickson: That they sort of see the path forward around like how people have been excluded from their fundraising when they’re like thinking about it in that sort of like geographical sense of community. Where I see organizations maybe struggle to think about fundraising in more community centric ways is communities that are built on values or identity like fund Donor communities that are being built on values and identity elements that then become exclusionary.

Mallory Erickson: And I feel like fundraisers have a harder time seeing what the path forward is in creating community centric. Like fundraising models in that way. What do you think [00:13:00] about that? 

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah. So we’ll back up just like two steps. So let’s talk about community centric fundraising. I often like to remind people that when we talk about this concept, we are talking about a movement.

Rachel D’Souza: We are talking about a set of ideas that challenge the way that our systems and institutions have worked, that really look at where they have failed our communities, or where they have perhaps resulted in reduced harm, but not necessarily the systemic change needed, right? And what are the many ways in which we as fundraisers, as nonprofit professionals, as advocates for organizations can create institutions and systems that better serve the communities that we seek to be in partnership with, that better steward the resources, right?

Rachel D’Souza: And I named this specifically because I often hear on social media when I’m in conversation with folks. This idea that sort of like donor centric fundraising and [00:14:00] community centric fundraising are somehow like diametrically opposed to each other. That’s like false thinking. I really want to sort of dispel that because when I think of donor centric fundraising, I think of a very specific kind of practice.

Rachel D’Souza: In a relationship between perhaps an organization, a fundraiser and their donor, that ultimately sort of results in that donor giving more resources to said organization more frequently, which on its face sounds wonderful, right? But in practice has created a lot of power dynamics, a lot of privilege dynamics.

Rachel D’Souza: That wind up orienting an organization, its resources around keeping people happy, right, keeping the donor giving instead of being able to look at mission, listen to community, figure out what might need to change and then bringing right those donors and that power and those resources along with us. So, [00:15:00] A, wanted to make that distinction when I think about the scenario that you describe with organizations that have kind of a harder time imagining what community centric fundraising look like.

Rachel D’Souza: It often seems that these organizations are, are sort of stuck in that harm reduction place. They haven’t been able to sort of get out of mission and really think about vision and they really haven’t been able to bring their donors along on a journey where donors are learning or where donors are part of a conversation or where an organization is saying, you know, We asked for X, you gave us Y, which is, you know, 40 percent less than our ask.

Rachel D’Souza: And so we can’t do Z. So if we can’t do Z, right, what are we going to do instead? Right. There’s a lot of fear around this idea that we might say to our benefactors, we appreciate you and this isn’t going to work. [00:16:00] So can we talk about something that could be a little bit more transformative? Right.

Rachel D’Souza: Sometimes I think of myself as a recovering fundraiser, but when I think about this sector and when I think about my, you know, early years fundraising with my first nonprofit organization. Over my dead body. What I’ve told the donor, that’s a really great idea, but we’re not going to do it. Cause that’s not what we do.

Rachel D’Souza: I would have been like, yeah. Oh my gosh. You’re so inspired. Let me talk to my boss and figure out how we can make this work. And then I’m like, what, how are we going to do this? This is wild, right? But that’s what I learned. And at the end of the day, I had this pressure that if I did not get those dollars in the door by that last day of the fiscal year.

Rachel D’Souza: Everything was going to come crumbling down and how is that sustainable either for a fundraiser or for organizations? So I really, it is really my hope that as people become [00:17:00] curious about community centric fundraising, that they really think about it as transformation and sustainability for their organization.

Rachel D’Souza: They think about adding seats to their table. They think about creating opportunities for people to learn. For And that perhaps what we have done in the past worked for us then, but it might not work for us now. And if that’s true, with all of the resources, right, we do, I’m not a scarcity person. We got a lot in our corner.

Rachel D’Souza: All right. How do we reimagine how we use those things? To take our organizations and our donors on like a new and different journey together. And that really excites me about community centric fundraising. 

Mallory Erickson: Yeah. There are a lot of things you said in there that I think really highlight this like connected.

Mallory Erickson: way of being with each other and that things become about so much more than the transaction [00:18:00] of money moving from here to here in this sort of like one directional way and then gratitude flows in one way or I mean of course like so much of what you said You know, I felt the same way as an early fundraiser.

Mallory Erickson: I mean, the idea of saying, Oh, no, that isn’t exactly what I meant by that. Or that isn’t, you know, actually how we’re gonna be able to achieve the goal that I see you wanting to achieve. That’s actually not how we get there, and there’s so many reasons for that. But I love that you just said, like, I’m not a scarcity person because as you were talking about all of those things, I was like, what is required here, like, is breaking out of scarcity mindset, because when you are in scarcity mindset, that’s when you’re going to take Money at all costs.

Mallory Erickson: That’s when you’re not gonna push back on a donor because you’re like, well, what if I lose it? What if then there won’t be anybody else who [00:19:00] wants to do anything with me? So how did you like sharing that in your earlier years? Like you would have, you know, never felt like you could sort of be there to now saying like, I’m not a scarcity person.

Mallory Erickson: And I see the, the availability of opportunities when we are in this place. And we are being honest about what’s necessary and we bring people on this journey. How do you suggest people, like, start to move towards that in, inside themselves? 

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah. So I, I think I would offer one starting point is that oftentimes people who are marginalized or have identities where they could be oppressed.

Rachel D’Souza: They don’t have a choice in the tactics of resilience, right? They don’t have really a choice about how they show up in situations. And so when I think about, you know, me as a child. Of immigrants [00:20:00] growing up in this sort of very Catholic community that was like proximate to other people of color who also still didn’t look like me.

Rachel D’Souza: I didn’t have a choice, right? It wasn’t like I was not going to go to school or I was not going to be in a relationship. If I was going to thrive, I had to figure out who my people were. And that requires A lot of conversations. I think it requires a lot of listening to understand and a lot of asking questions to see clarity, right?

Rachel D’Souza: Because not everybody is going to be where you are sort of on this journey and in sort of my earliest dreamings about what, you know, anti racism and fundraising could look like, or what The Sims change in fundraising could look like the first goal, right. Is to find the people who agree with you and also make friends with the people that don’t.

Rachel D’Souza: Because you can’t bring, right. We can’t do change without all the people [00:21:00] on the spectrum, right? So what relationships. Do we know this is where I’m going to get where I, what I need. This is like my abundance people. We’re going to be like kicking around these big ideas and who are the people that are going to push me, who are going to test my assumptions.

Rachel D’Souza: Who are maybe going to piss me off a little bit, they’re going to keep me in conversation and keep me in check about the things I’m trying to do and the things that I’m trying to advance. And so I think within any organization that’s considering any kind of change, you have to be willing to have both your, like the people who catch you when you fall and those critical friends.

Rachel D’Souza: at the table 

Mallory Erickson: for change to happen successfully. I love thinking about that and I’m starting to categorize people in my mind, um, you know, who have, who have been both of those things for me. Okay. You said this piece before around like the donor journey and sort of what it looks like to bring people on that journey.

Mallory Erickson: And [00:22:00] then you also just said this part about People are at different places in their own work, and so I’m thinking about, you know, organizations that, and I’m glad that you talked about that piece around sort of donor centric and community centric and the conversation we usually hear there, but actually what the.

Mallory Erickson: What sort of like the root issues are there because I’m thinking about a lot of organizations that have, you know, use donor centric practices that have been led them to this power dynamic that you know, you were describing that are interested or want to move away from those things and sort of write their relationships.

Mallory Erickson: With their current donors and make, start to make their like fundraising more inclusive and this piece around people being at different points in their journey, but then also wanting to bring people along for the journey of the [00:23:00] organization with the mission and community centered. How do you, do you have any suggestions for how folks sort of think about that?

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah, so, you know, one thing that I generally have noted. During my time in the sector is that fundraisers and nonprofits sometimes are scared or anxious about. Being honest with their donors, telling them, you know, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to generally put our, you know, best foot forward, even when that’s maybe a fuzzy version of the truth or not quite, what is the term, truthiness?

Rachel D’Souza: There’s like not quite the truth there, right? And so I think for us, or I think for me, both when I was actively fundraising for organizations and in my work as a consultant, Um, again, so we have these active listening conversations. We start to talk because for me, it’s why are donors even giving to this organization in the first [00:24:00] place?

Rachel D’Souza: What was it? What’s your story? What’s your experience that made this connection, right? And what have you come to expect from us? Because one thing that I find in sort of this journey towards community centric fundraising is that an organization is excited about the values, they’re excited about what a shift in organizing money and resources can mean, and then they change the rules.

Rachel D’Souza: Without telling their donor, right, that things are shifting. And so I can’t imagine, right, any other relationship that you have in your life where you wouldn’t say to your, Partner to a friend to a family member. Hey, we’ve been like this for a while and it’s not really working for me. So I think it’s time to try something new, right?

Rachel D’Souza: Oftentimes in nonprofits, we want to like roll up the plan. Without building [00:25:00] trust and buy in with people, right? And then I’ll have people say, well, isn’t that perpetuating donor centrism? In some ways, yeah, but also, when you are in a relationship with someone that is authentic, You bring them along. So, you know, we’ll start to have conversations with institutional funders to say, Hey, I understand that you’ve organized your internal practices these ways so that you can report this information to your board of trustees and.

Rachel D’Souza: You’ve funded this many, you know, people of color centered organizations or this many disability justice organizations. I get that. And also, let me tell you what that feels like over here. Because we’re out in the field or my Edie’s literally planting vegetables on the farm, you know, nine months out of the year.

Rachel D’Souza: And isn’t gonna be that person that is filling out your weird, you [00:26:00] know, grant portal questions. So how do we, how do we ask the questions? What does it look like to make this process easier, more transformational? And what steps are we willing to take? Right? Similarly, when we. Look at a lot of the headlines right now, you’ll see all this, you know, trust in nonprofits is dropping donor giving is dropping.

Rachel D’Souza: And those aren’t things that are necessarily attributed to inflation or attributed to the economy or whatever, you know, political anxieties or world anxieties we’re feeling, but people, our donors have also been sold a story for a long time. And we haven’t fixed the problem, right? So we have been in sort of dishonest and inauthentic relationship with our donors, and these are brilliant human beings who chose to share their resources with us, and now we’ve given them a reason not to trust, right?

Rachel D’Souza: So [00:27:00] what does it look like? To say, Hey, I know this is what our relationship has looked like for the last five years. And here’s what our organization has been through. And now I want to open the door to having a different conversation with you. And when we’ve had clients to do that, when we’ve had development folks in conversation with their donors, we’ve had donors say, Oh my God, thank you.

Rachel D’Souza: This has been bothering me because X, or I wanted to be so much more engaged in your organization. But you don’t offer childcare. So all I can do is write a check because I can’t be present when you all need to orient people, right? And so you open up this different level of dialogue that we really shut our money to donors out of, right?

Rachel D’Souza: Like, we have expected a check, you write the check, we get the check, we thank you, we send your acknowledgement, right? Repeat. And so we, it’s like we have created this self fulfilling prophecy, right? That we find ourselves in. [00:28:00] And when we crack the door open for something different, You will get people that will say, yeah, I’ve been ready, right?

Rachel D’Souza: You’ll get people that will say, I’m curious, but I didn’t know what that looked like. And you will have donors that will say, yeah, I’m not interested in that. This is not the conversation I want to have with you. And all of those things are okay, right? Because it’s what’s true. It’s what’s happening between our organization and the donor.

Rachel D’Souza: We have a decision to make about where we invest our time, our resources, our energy to make sure that whatever resources we’re organizing actually get our communities what they need, whether those are communities of people or animals or collectives or whatever it is, right? Like. We can’t continue to be focused on making one group of people happy at the expense of mission and vision.

Mallory Erickson: Okay. I so appreciate that breakdown. And I think I really like, I mean, there’s so much gold in what you just said, but I think that piece around, [00:29:00] around, The intersection of the fear of being donor centric, but also the need to take care of real relationships and just like understanding that change happens intentionally.

Mallory Erickson: And I, because I think sometimes what I see is like a bunch of guilt around how people have historically fundraised, right? They hear things like this, they like, experience all that guilt, and then they’re like, Okay, here’s our brand new fundraising plan, and exactly what you said, they change all the rules.

Mallory Erickson: With no conversation, because the conversations feel uncomfortable and scary and maybe means they have to face some of the things they’re feeling really guilty about. But I think like your point is so important, like relationships are relationships. And if you ultimately want to move towards.

Mallory Erickson: Fundraising in a different way, [00:30:00] building community in a different way, like the slash and burn kind of model. It doesn’t work. 

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah. No. And so this is why, you know, I want to say again, like when I think of community centric fundraising as the sort of movement, there is a space for the practices of donor centric fundraising to live in there, in my opinion.

Rachel D’Souza: Does that mean that we continue to privilege our donors or continue to allow for a power imbalance? It doesn’t, and that’s not a part of the original definition, right? Donor centric fundraising wasn’t supposed to be we give our donors power, right? It was supposed to be we’re in good relationship and we get resources because they understand, right?

Rachel D’Souza: So we can take the best pieces of that, right. And it advanced our organizations to have a more holistic and justice oriented view of what change looks like, of what impact looks like. Right. So we’re not [00:31:00] going to continue for the next 20, 30, 40, a hundred years to ask for the same things and maybe do slightly less, but that we can really get intentional and strategic.

Rachel D’Souza: And leverage the enthusiasm of donors and the experience of our communities and the willingness and interest of our neighbors, right? That’s so much richer than thank you for your a hundred dollar check. We’ll make sure you get that gala invite and we’ll send you that tax letter and we’ll see you, right?

Rachel D’Souza: That’s not what people are seeking anymore. The tax laws have changed, right? The world is changing. We have to be willing to let go of the things that maybe felt like they worked in the past and get a little uncle as fundraisers. But I’ll tell you when I have done that, what I have learned in those conversations winds up far outweighing any fear that I felt going into them.

Mallory Erickson: Okay. I want to leave folks with that right there. Although I know we [00:32:00] could talk For so much longer, but tell everyone where they can find you follow along, work with you, all of the things. Yeah. 

Rachel D’Souza: So you can come find me at our website. So www. gladiatorrds. com. I am also on LinkedIn. Come find me there, Rachel D’Souza.

Rachel D’Souza: Um, and I love Instagram. So look up, you know, underscore Rachel dot D’Souza on Instagram and come hang out with me. Sort of a guilty pleasure. So happy to connect in any or all of those spaces 

Mallory Erickson: Thank you so much Rachel for sharing all of your wisdom with us today and and for everything you do for our space 

Rachel D’Souza: Yeah, thank you for having me I’m so excited that Actually, y’all should know the reason that Mallory and I met is because my daughter hit her with a broom ping pong ball when she was like eight and a half months pregnant and this poor pregnant woman turns around.[00:33:00] 

Rachel D’Souza: And gets up to bring this ping pong ball over. And I’m like, Oh my goodness, what is happening? Who knew that the errant ping pong ball would lead to such a beautiful and serendipitous connection. I’m so happy. I’m so grateful. 

Mallory Erickson: I’m so grateful for all of it. And I would have found you, even if it wasn’t for the ping pong ball, but that is a better, but that is a better introduction.

Mallory Erickson: So I love it. Thank you. Thank you so much. Take care.

Mallory Erickson: I hope today’s episode inspired you. challenge you to think differently for additional takeaways, tips, show notes, and more about our amazing guest and sponsors, head on over to Mallory Ericsson. com backslash podcast. And if you didn’t know, hosting this podcast, isn’t the only thing I do every day. I coach guide and help fundraisers and leaders just like you inside of my program, the power partners [00:34:00] formula collective.

Mallory Erickson: Um, inside the program, I share my methods, tools, and experiences that have helped me fundraise millions of dollars and feel good about myself in the process to learn more about how I can help you visit Mallory Erickson. com backslash power partners. Last but not least, if you enjoyed this episode, I’d love to encourage you to share it with a friend, you know, would benefit or leave a review.

Mallory Erickson: I’m so grateful for all of you and the good hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. I can’t wait to see you in the next episode.

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