116: Magnetic Fundraising: The System and Structure We Need to Empower Uncomfortable Donor Conversations with Paul Nazareth

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“So much of what we think of planned giving is stuck in the 90s, when the fact is modern day gift planning is all gifts, from annual fund all the way up to major gifts. It’s just about how big and bold the donor’s vision is and their capacity to be able to afford that.”

– Paul Nazareth
Episode #116


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

What inspires donors to be deeply connected to causes and organizations? How can fundraisers shift from transactional donor relationships to more connected donor relationships? These are key questions whose answers shine light on our beliefs about generosity, problem solving, and non-profit success. Want to know more? Tune in to this episode with Paul Nazareth!

Paul Nazareth is a Charity Sector Community Builder and VP of Education & Development at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. Having been a philanthropic advisor for 15 years, working with a variety charities from universities to churches, Paul has a wealth of knowledge in non-profit leadership and creating a personal legacy through smart, generous giving. His insights can help us fundraisers approach fundraising with a new, more humanistic perspective.

In this episode, Paul and I discuss what inspires donors to deeply connect with causes and organizations and how we can use this knowledge to optimize the impact of their donations. We talk about how fundraisers can reframe uncomfortable and vulnerable conversations with donors, particularly around death, legacy gifts, and gift planning. 

You’ll learn about the systems and structures that are needed to create the conditions for magnetic fundraising and how (when they are not there) it’s easy for fundraisers to stay in a transactional mindset. If we want fundraisers to be able to nurture human connection-based relationships we need to create the conditions for that success and there is a role we all can play in that. We also highlight a unique way to prevent burnout in fundraisers, so stay tuned!


Paul Nazareth


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Get to know Paul: 

Paul Nazareth, MFA-P Vice President of Education & Development Canadian Association of Gift Planners Paul Nazareth has worked in Canada’s philanthropic sector for over 20 years. Currently, Vice President of Education & Development at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), and was previously VP at the charity CanadaHelps. Paul has been a philanthropic advisor with a national wealth management firm in a trust company and spent 15 years working with charities from Universities to Churches. Paul is on the board of several charities including The Circle on Indigenous Philanthropy and on the Advisory Council of Carleton University’s Masters in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program and on the editorial committee of The Philanthropist Journal. He serves as faculty for the Master Financial Advisor in Philanthropy (MFA-P) program led by CAGP, Knowledge Bureau and Spire Philanthropy, and is a frequent instructor for the tax and advisor community with organizations like CPA, Advocis and Estate Planning Councils. Paul writes on philanthropy for a variety of publications and regularly appears on national radio and television to speak about creating a personal legacy through smart, generous giving.


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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.


episode transcript

Mallory Erickson  01:57

I’m so excited to be here today with Paul Nazareth. Paul, welcome to what the fundraising.

Paul Nazareth  02:03

Thanks so much for having me.

Mallory Erickson  02:04

I feel like this conversation has been a long time coming every time I get to see the content that you’re putting out in the world and hear you talk, I resonate so deeply with the message that you share. So will you tell everyone a little bit about your background, your history? And what brings you to our conversation today?

Paul Nazareth  02:23

Sure, thanks so much for asking that. My background and history as a fundraiser is very much tied to curiosity. And as much as I wish our professional wasn’t an open manhole cover that everybody always says they fell into. But I was connected to my alma mater as call center, and had a colleague told me about fundraising as a profession. And of course, like so many people, I didn’t think it was a profession. But I spent the first half of my life doing it. As a kid, I was a church rat. So hanging off the back of trucks, collecting clothes, and bake sales and all of that. And then getting into the sector. Formerly, I actually found a really strong home in the world of what we would often call playing to giving. And part of it is because I saw how much the money had meaning how much the math created meaning. And so I’ve worked for a number of years in largest university in the country, the largest set of churches in the country. And then I’ll let my curiosity take me into the world of donor advised funds for a few years on Canada’s Wall Street, but also in technology working for the largest technology charity in the country. As it scaled the way that money moved, which I knew would move eventually from an annual giving conversational into you bet a major gift conversation of millions of dollars moving with a thumb. So that’s where you know, I come to today of moving about the different parts of our sector, but still being led to curiosity into what causes great generosity.

Mallory Erickson  03:51

I love that framing. And what strikes me about your work and your experience working with donors over multiple phases of their giving and their generosity, it seems to me that you intimately understand some of the life cycle elements of folks decision to to give to invest. And so can you talk a little bit about how your beliefs about generosity and humans and what inspires donors to be both deeply connected to causes but also deeply connected to organizations?

Paul Nazareth  04:32

Part of it is I started in the profession, originally connected to charities to organizations and to those communities. And then as time went on, and I can tell you, it’s addictive once you start working for an organization that is cause neutral, right again, working in an advice fund in a bank working for actually a ƒpublic foundation that was purely internet based that had every charity on it. So I moved for many years, conversations often on generosity. We’re stuck in math. And then once we gave ourselves both of us the donor and me permission to let ourselves dream a bit bigger. Think about the values mine came from my faith background, my community background, though the way I was raised, even the way I saw, charity and fundraising happened, then I really started connecting more with donors that were problem solvers. It’s one of the reasons I love working with entrepreneurs, with community organizers, with people that know explicitly what the problem is, so that they can be creative about how to solve it.

Mallory Erickson  05:36

I love that in giving at its best, what does that look and feel and sound like between a donor and the community and the work? Not that those necessarily have to be separate entities? But what are those conversations look, sound and feel like?

Paul Nazareth  05:55

Remember, Jerry Maguire, and when he was outside the locker room, and another athlete sees him hug his client, and then says, Why don’t we have a relationship like that? There is a ton of donors out there, where they’re speaking to their favorite charity like that, why don’t we have a relationship like anything? Why don’t we have a relationship? Your only relationship to me often is money asking for thanking for, what can we just talk? You know, again, that is the essence of modern gift planning. The old school plan giving was about remainder trust, and annuities, and all that, and the new school gift planning. And I’m so grateful to our colleague, Catherine Myrie, of the American gift Planning Association, who once said, at the most beautiful way, where she said, you know, in the end, our donors passion and purpose is the paint. And our organization’s mission is the canvas. And again, recognizing that we don’t have to do mission trips, no one can pull us over the edges of the canvas, we’ve defined that their passion is the pain our purposes the canvas, and together, we co create a beautiful thing. And at the end of that conversation, they turn to you and ask, Hey, how much does that cost? And you let them know, if you’re being a responsible fundraiser, you let them know what the total cost and realistic causes no more cutting back for overhead or people’s emotional feelings about projects saying what it really costs, because one of the reasons I also went to a bank was to learn about what the average person actually had when it came to wealth. Many of us in the nonprofit sector come from the nonprofit sector, come from communities that have been helped or grassroots. So we have a scarcity mindset. And actually, when you hang out with the wealthy and see how much money they actually got, you don’t feel as much as bad asking them for it. Because if we have co created the vision, they’re as much responsible as we are. And then they take that dollar amount to their financial advisor, just like they would a house, a car or a boat. And since your job to help me to afford that. That’s gift cleaning.

Mallory Erickson  07:56

There’s so many things you just said that I’m excited to dig in around. But for folks, I haven’t talked on this podcast before about legacy gifts and gift planning. Can you give us the 101 for folks who are coming to this conversation? Or like I don’t know what that means? Exactly. Can you just define some of that for us?

Paul Nazareth  08:16

Well, we’re both graced on both sides of the border to have a great teacher, conductor, Russell James, as he’s known on the internet, his social handles are the generosity professor. His work in the world of playing giving was groundbreaking, because it helped us again, to understand everything right down to the language, even things like the word legacy is out of date. It’s an ambiguous word, that nobody totally understands what it means it brings up a lot of weird conversations about death and dying and money. And so he talks about actually being more explicit with our fundraising language, talking about things like gifts in a will. And frankly, outside of bequest in a will a ton of the other gifts in the world are playing giving stocks, life insurance, registered funds, those are all current major gifts. So actually, there is no conversation about death or dying in those. So much of what we think of Planned Giving is stuck in the 90s when the fact is modern day gift planning is all gifts from annual fund all the way up to major gifts. It’s just about how big and bold the donors vision is, and their capacity to be able to afford that. But that capacity, we need to start saying why are we doing all the work advisors are making even the money off of these funds? Well, they shouldn’t be advising on those funds to just understanding we can be a whole community together. And a lot of what my work is is actually even bringing in those advisors helping them understand what their responsibility is in this conversation, because as we’ve heard on both sides of the border, they’re great at pulling in money again, this is going back to Seinfeld, when he was talking about reserving cars. Well, that’s what everybody’s saying about donor advised funds. You all are real great at taking the reservation. Advisors are really great at creating capital and growing capital, but they suck giving it away. And giving and granting is what we do.

Mallory Erickson  10:03

I love the way that you’re talking about this. And I’m curious, when a donor is making a decision to make an investment that they will be able to see in their lifetime versus an investment after they pass away, that’s a part of their estate. Is there a difference in how they’re thinking about that from the perspective of urgency recognition, like how do those kind of behavioral elements or like the elements of desire shift when we’re talking about a major gift in your lifetime, versus a legacy gift,

Paul Nazareth  10:38

Indeed, and again, Dr. James has done some great work around understanding that these kinds of gifts that are connected to an estate plan and go beyond just the traditional financial tax, here’s our gifts that the brain connects not to the dopamine and feel good, warm, fuzzy of giving, but to to the point with the brain connected to auto biography, so the traditional fundraising script is come along with us, we’re solving this problem. But actually, when it comes to a gift of a state, and it’s specifically getting wills. And actually, it’s a pretty cool line from the show, Hamilton, if you’re big Hamilton fan at all, you’ll remember he says, What is legacy? It’s planting the seeds of a garden, you will never see. But the cool part is in fundraising, you can and the garden of like scholarships or bursaries, they don’t have to endow that scholarship to come to the award ceremony. And breathe in that wonderful air. I call it being greedy for good when people see the impact of their giving at any level. And we’ve all got to stop tying it to dollar figures. That’s an incredible danger in the world of fundraising. And one of the reasons why everybody’s so overhead obsessed, every dollar of my gift must not go to salaries. Well, guess what if you want this organization operating, right? So there’s a lot of troublesome narratives that we can overcome when we stop thinking about just the money, but the meaning, not just the math, but why are they doing this? Again, that’s a big thing for me in my time with donors, why are you doing this?

Mallory Erickson  12:08

I really like that, thinking about it from that perspective. And I know you said okay, for a fundraiser, you know, it’s not that they’re going into these meetings, talking about death. But do you have any tools or reframes for fundraisers, who are walking into it, and they still feel like they’re about to talk about a topic that is really vulnerable for the donor, potentially, and maybe not vulnerable? Just because it’s about death, maybe vulnerable, because they have complicated family dynamics, and their estate is contentious, or, you know, there are a lot of things in that negotiation. I don’t mean negotiation between the nonprofit and the person, but the person in their life at that phase that might be sensitive. And so I can imagine that for fundraisers, particularly if they don’t feel well versed in this area of fundraising, they might be like, I don’t want to touch that thing with like a 10 foot pole. So like, how do they dip their toe in? How do they open up that potential conversation and start to create space for that?

Paul Nazareth  13:13

Again, this is what we are often trained to do, especially in capital campaigns, or major gift fundraising. We’re focused on the money can with capital campaigns, you’re going in there with the pledge to mount? Sure, we may have the flexibility to think of multi year pledges. But we’re not open minded. And once we focus on the meaning, right, again, it was a great philosopher Voltaire, who said this, but also Pitbull asked for money, get advice, ask for advice, get money twice. And the fact is, we can say to donors, look you’ve been giving for how many years? Why you’ve been giving for this long? What is your vision? If somebody tells us their vision, it doesn’t even mean that we have to go and say, Well, we’re changing the mission of the charity. We can just know more about the donor than when we ask more about meaning but in a new world, because it can’t just be donor centric. Hey, is 2023 You know, great, thanks to our colleagues, I really and community centric fundraising, where we are also starting to ask the questions. Well, how did you make this money? You made this money on Al Capone style prohibition era when we have a bigger conversation that we got to have now. Right? And on both sides of our border, we’re asking questions about indigenous reconciliation, about social justice in the granting. We’ve just had this big discussion up here in Canada, where we’ve changed the disbursement quota on endowment and capital funds. And we still have the receipts and the numbers to know doesn’t matter how much money you give away. Indigenous people and people of equity seeking communities are not going to get access to it, however much you’re giving away. The problem is not how much the problem is, who is giving it away. Why and how. And we do need to have those bigger conversations and excited to really feel like they’re happening. 

Mallory Erickson  14:56

What are some things that you’ve noticed in sort of the openness and and trends with donors or even how donors, like a donors own capacity for discomfort in some of these conversations, recognizing that talking about these things is not going to be comfortable, it should not be comfortable. And yet, it’s still incredibly important. Talk to me a little bit about that,

Paul Nazareth  15:18

you know, we’re not there yet. Because as well, you know, again fundraisers were just thrown into this work, sometimes ay, in people outside of my traditional fundraising role, I’m a networking expert. But why? Because I was 20, something thrown into the homes of millionaires told to talk to them about life art classics history, it was such a challenge also being such an ambivert. Because as much as there was a gregarious part that got the community element, we’re also expected to be doing prospect research, understand the math and taxes of giving. That’s the challenge. And so the next phase of these vulnerable conversations also need to be supported by our institutions, by government, by everybody who understands we spent a couple 100 years putting together this supremacy structure, it’s going to take a while to dismantle it too. And we need to use proper people, proper experts, we need to pay those people. We also know a nonprofit, and this is a place I’m personally at these days, is having board members devalue people who work in our organizations. You know, I have been working with an urban planning organization just currently. And the urban planner they have has been twice over an urban planner in a capital city in this country. Why would anyone devalue their knowledge? And again, in fundraising, well, they bowled over us all the time. We bring data, you know, AF p does incredible data work our organization CGP does? And when someone says yeah, yeah, but whatever, let’s just do another golf tournament. So that is also the next phase of pushback. I hear one of our patron saints, Dan PELADA is going to be having a conversation starter, I hear a public documentaries coming out. Those are the conversations we need to be having at all levels, not just donor tables, fundraising tables, internal management tables, and sector tables as well.

Mallory Erickson  17:06

I could not agree more with what you said. And I think there’s this total like paternalistic attitude with the nonprofit sector that everyone knows better than the people inside the sector. And not only does it devalue the employees, and sometimes consultants in this space, and that data that you were mentioning, right, but there’s like this, both the power dynamic on the individual level, but also it feels like there’s like this power hierarchy between sectors that makes it so hard to advance certain conversations inside organizations, and sometimes inside larger sector wide conversations, because it feels like the nonprofits are screaming things. And everybody else is patting them on the head and telling them that they know better

Paul Nazareth  17:57

Which is also why I so early in my career got into the tax and law of giving. Again, there’s a little joke around that poll is one of the best dressed people in the world of fundraising. One of the reasons is, is because I wear a suit to bed because it’s armor, because I’ve spent so much time arguing with tax professionals, financial advisors, I was trained in the law of bequest administration by lawyers trust professionals. And yet when I would tell them, You’re breaking the law on this one, you need to recollect this receipt. Because I work for a cherry Be quiet little charity and do what I tell you wonderfully enough, a lot of my work and the community’s work has been also about advancing us as a partner at the table. And when people even ask me, what are some of the better models I’ve seen out there? Probably the best one comes from millennia old wisdom, which is our colleagues who are indigenous to this land that we happen to live on. In my I’m now a board member of an organization in Canada called the circle on indigenous philanthropy and their wisdom. They’ve just launched a public site called the Feast house.ca. And in there is an indigenous worldview about not just generosity, but reciprocity. What is giving living with generosity looks like it looks like reciprocity. So what is the day to day? What is sharing? You know, they’re asking questions that we can’t even ask in our fundraising model, because the tax and law of donations will not allow for that. And that’s a hard one. Again, when I even say to myself, the revolution may not be receded. Well, that’s very hard for a gift planning person because we’ve been relying on those trusts in the law, which for indigenous and black Canadians and Americans will never be just and the system was designed against them. So those are the harder questions and I’m excited to have people like the circle. Up here in Canada, we’ve got the foundation for black communities, and a couple others that are hosting their own discussions. They don’t need a sector to give them permission anymore. They’re leading with their vulnerable conversations. Have courage that I think are starting to give us show us a whole new way. 

Mallory Erickson  20:04

Yeah, I learned so much from indigenous wisdom. And I just heard someone speak recently, they told a story. And they talked at the end about how the story didn’t resolve and how that’s very common in Indigenous storytelling is that it doesn’t resolve the same way we’re used to in like white supremacy Western culture. And after he spoke, I sat there for such a long time thinking about how different society would be if we could sit in the unknown without resolution in terms of how we do so many things. Like what you’re talking about receipts, this closure, that supremacy culture, the hustle, checkboxes, perfectionism, urgency, culture, like all the things that we know, are part of white supremacy culture that create this very transactional system. And then we were talking a little bit before we clicked record about how transactional so much of giving is, and yet, fundraisers are consistently told to not be transactional.

Paul Nazareth  21:15

And again, they’ve designed by they will, by that I mean, very often boards and bosses who do not understand fundraising have not been educated in fundraising, have designed a system that only rewards transaction or fiscal model, I will say, hell hath no fury like the end of fiscal or a capital campaign, because we’re all just running around trying to get those things closed off. And then the next day is day one, you bet we’re being trained in a transactional model, if every single year, January one is day one, or whatever the after your fiscal is, as opposed to saying, how do we do this with frankly, small business being business have gone to these models, is subscription based, monthly giving, making, giving easy even in technology? Again, for years, I was obsessed a little bit with Bitcoin blockchain, not because of the asset, but because of the transactions that it will open up. If we can do this, again, I was with one of the larger technology organizations, in 2014, people were doing $1,000 donations through their phone. And now in 2023, people are doing million dollar donations. And again, some of them may be in a traditional fundraising world. And others are on GoFundMe, which is not fundraising, which is not donations, it is not transparent. Nor is it accountable. Yeah, we have to ask ourselves the question when it comes to annual funds, why is crowdfunding winning? That’s what you talk about, too, is the vulnerability. We’ve sterilized so much of fundraising and charity language. And make no mistake, GoFundMe is the capital V vulnerability there is, it’s where people go when they’ve reached the place where they cannot go further. But there’s something that people really connect with in that. This is why I believe in the sector is that it also cares enough to have vulnerable conversations without taking advantage of vulnerable people. I just saw one of the largest papers in my country criticize this very dynamic charity called the furniture bank, they’re actually a technology darling, they are very connected to Salesforce. And they’ve been using AI to generate some of their advertising. And the question of publication was asking what’s the ethics of it? When in fact, the charity brought up to say, well, don’t you understand that actually, most charitable advertising when done right, is still exploitative, of vulnerable populations. And when done wrong, a lot of charities are very often too comfortable, just snipped, snapping pictures all over the place of vulnerable people in populations. And this team using AI created now visual identities for people that don’t exist. These someone is thinking, How does change bring us progress? Most people are just asking how to change bring us more, you know, a word I think a lot of us are just struggling with more for more sake growth for growth’s sake, even in fundraising for those of us in major gifts. And I’ve been major gift trained, it’s very hard to think of a day in which we will have conversations about the origins of wealth, the environmental impacts of, but thank goodness for organizations. And again, quite a number of the ones that are really exploring this are from diverse populations and our main organizations, the ones that supremacy benefits them. They’re the bricks and mortar. So again, grateful to those teams who are having those conversations, but that’s also why we have spaces like this, so that people can listen and engage and I hope they do in the platforms that you host.

Mallory Erickson  24:37

Yeah, thank you for saying that. And I echo your gratitude. And it’s bringing up this dynamic that I’ve been grappling with a little bit and you can tell me if like you don’t feel comfortable wading into this water with me. So I’m executive coach certified and a lot of what I do with fundraisers is I also study the nervous system and what activates our know Have a system and how we can down regulate it when we need to in certain environments. And I bring on here a lot of guests as well who gives psychologists and trauma therapists to provide tools to help support the embodiment of fundraisers. And I really don’t want to perpetuate a narrative that this is not a systems issue, like sort of how to hold that the same time, both the resources or tools to help individual fundraisers feel better on a day to day basis, or have tools that allow them to feel more connected to themselves, to be able to manage their stress that are all those things. And sometimes, like, I’ve seen a few headlines this week about burnout in our sector, and one of them was something like how fundraisers can avoid burnout. And I looked at it and I was like, Okay, so there we are, again, putting the burden on fundraisers to cure something that the system is causing. And I’m just curious how you think about that, like how we sort of hold this duality of both empowering fundraisers to feel a sense of supportive ownership around their daily experience. Without that being the responsibility to fix something that isn’t their fault.

Paul Nazareth  26:23

It’s a really tough one. And I’m very grateful to folks like yourself, Mallary for thinking that way. In fact, partially, it’s also one of the reasons I don’t become a coach. Because I believe we need to do the self work, the technical work, to understand professional coaching, and to dive enough, deep enough into your profession to know what the problems are. And I really feel like the track that you’re on is very important right now, because indeed, it’s a systems issue, it was set up this way for us. So anybody starting in the system is going to come out the same way many of us did. And I am being very open about this right now these days, because also, I’m being affected by it. And that I’ve shared with a lot of folks had some health challenges and the back end of the time where we weren’t moving, and outside of my work, and like there’s a ton of people out there, I am absolutely one of them, who has their identity wrapped up in the work we do. The organizations we’re connected to even the organizations we give to some really interesting studies out there about how people even use giving in some of those ways. But for us, it’s the fundraisers the identity to the mission that caused the organization. I think we’re dangerously over leveraged. And if any of us, either the employers or us as individuals want to have careers that are long enough inside the house, because of course, that’s also one of the reasons why anybody over 40s and change doesn’t stay within organizations, because they realize they maybe can’t forget about won’t, I believe that more of us need to embrace won’t. And I’m really supporting young fundraisers who are pushing back for better everything, work hours, structures, days of the week, working all of that I really believe in and support them in that. But it’s also more of us who’ve been around for a while he to realize the social capital we have the institutional capital we have, start having the tougher conversations, and then being open to the change, even if it’s not something we’re easily available to do.

Mallory Erickson  28:17

Yeah, I also deeply love this sector, you know, and I really believe in it. And there are days where I’m like, Who do we have a mountain to climb for the fundraisers who are listening to this to the nonprofit leaders who are listening to this, I mean, I, I just want folks to start to play with maybe that duality of both feeling empowered by some of the tools on this show and other that you’ve gained in other places to start to come back into your body or deal with the chatter in your head. But also remember that like with that awareness around what’s happening inside your brain and body, it needs to come with compassion for yourself that it is not your fault, these things are happening. And the system has created this dynamic these feelings that are totally normal. And you know, when people are burning out and like to the point about being transactional, I mean, transactional relationships, in my opinion, are like a sympathetic nervous system relationship. They are totally we are in like fight flight mode when we are like in that place. And look, the reality is even our sympathetic nervous system like stress, there are plenty of benefits to those things when we have them in short bursts. Adrenaline is a super important experience for us to have. So sometimes that like the end of a campaign or that type of thing. The problem is exactly what you said, what happens on day one, there’s no healing, there’s no rest and recovery. There’s no celebration. There’s like none of the things actually repair our nervous system from that big adrenaline push. I just heard someone speak on the podcast like almost a year ago now said something like that. Athletes rest and recover 90% of the time to perform 10% of the time. And I think about in fundraising, we expect people to be on and perform 90% of the time and leave the rest and recover 10% of the time. And how on earth are we still surprised that they’re burning out?

Paul Nazareth  30:18

Yep, our systems are set up that way, like when society rests, is December 31 is fundraising time, even in the summers and all that stuff. So where did I find a better way of this, there was actually taking part in an indigenous education program where they talked about why we always talk about quarters and work plans and all that when in fact, we have a whole system for that it’s called the seasons. And we know where we are how we are naturally resting in certain places, some parts of the country, it’s winter and summer, it’s warm, we can live a more natural life. And actually, in a lot of ways, we need to re harmonize fundraising, to a more natural life and a lot of that work that I do, and let’s give our listeners a resource that will help us in both these conversations, a great book by the name of a well lived life, the author is Lindsey green, it’ll do both things. One, it’s actually probably one of the best reads in the world of gift planning, because he talks about how a donor can do their own work not about vehicles and insurance or trusts, but actually mentally create the dream of their generosity vision. But for us as fundraisers, the book also talks about cultivating purpose. And for some of us, this needs to be a job, that’s great for all of us, it’s going to be a career. But for even some of us it is a calling. And we need to be gentler on ourselves when our organizations are not and don’t even know how to be, you know, again, I worked for an institution, a financial institution with a lot of people would call evil and corporate. And I work for a charity that a lot of people in this world talk about focusing on the family more than others. But that bank treated me better than any charity ever did. The family organization. Well, we never had holiday gatherings with our families. No one ever knew who my family was, no one even knew who I was. But actually in small business, big business in a lot of institutions, where the leader cares about the individuals, they ask questions like, and they have gatherings with his family, etc. So part of it is we all need to drop our judgment around this again, Adam Grant, if you’re a fan of his his last book was called Think again. And it was about how we can let go of many of our long held judgments, and the hardest ones to let go of the ones that are up on ourselves. So many of us are our own worst enemies. I’ve had my supervisors and my co workers for years telling me to slow down. I like crossing the country like 30 times a year, I’m a pirate on the high seas. I didn’t need to figure out how to have better balance. But the challenge is no one is going to set that pace, but me. So it’s important to just begin, like you were saying, I love the athlete thing as much as I don’t like sports. But I liked the concept of spooling up, this is a Tim Ferriss thing to spooling up to perform at the top level, and then boom, you do the Olympic thing. Are you getting in whatever the cold bath looks like? Are you taking the time off? We just don’t. And that’s where we need to do it and understand it will help us do our work better.

Mallory Erickson  33:19

Yeah, it also makes me wonder if that is connected to like what creates connection between individuals. So to me like the alternative to transactional relationships are connected relationships. And so I’ve been studying a lot around what makes us feel biologically connected, like to be known to be seen to feel a level of safety and openness and how for fundraisers to be able to connect like to expect a fundraiser to go from getting rejected from a big grant, or getting ghosted by a donor to then be in a place where they can walk into a meeting and connect from their heart with somebody else. With no space in there for like recovery or reset or anything just feels like an impossible task. I’m curious what you think about this. I think that might be one of the things that leads to us staying in that transactional space because we’re like, I can’t handle the vulnerability involved in deeply connecting because I just experienced is very painful thing. But I can do that checklist work around the transaction,

Paul Nazareth  34:33

who wrote about this and actually referenced fundraisers in his best selling book is Daniel Pink. And Daniel Pink wrote a book called To Sell Is Human and he talks about how sales is dead. It is all human transactions. Now it is all human interactions now. And he talks about what high net worth salespeople I E major gift officers. One of the most powerful skills in their toolbox was the ability to be a man emotionally buoyant after a major projection, and we get some pretty major projections when you think about it, indeed, go to the next meeting, be at the event last night or this weekend, with no break. That was a really big one about how do you do the emotional reset. So Daniel Pink has a lot in that book to souls as human is really powerful. But actually, for me, it’s funny because the first half of my career and I’m just rounding 25 years now, for a long time, my colleagues, even my bosses would make fun of me, because I had a massive value in the humanity of fundraising isn’t a cute pole likes to write holiday cards to people and I’m like, I’m a major gift officer. I’m stamping, I’m uploading it into the CRM. I’m not writing to somebody’s grandma. This is human connection. And actually the other one that really people pushed out of me. And then I went off road and took it back in my own life was food was breaking bread. We are human beings. And one of the most powerful things is when we break bread when we share a meal when we connect with each other. Once again, we have sterilized fundraising, so that the only food we transact is food, a donor events food a Gallus and again, that food is for some people, not others. The Good Food is for some people, not others, the email, this half rotten food in the staff room is sent out to some people, not others the next day. So again, these are a lot of these things, we’ve got to talk about, why are they built this way? Why did they work this way? Recognizing that one size will never fit all, again, a university, a hospital, a major charity is different than a local community based organization. They both got to have their own discussions, but in different ways about different things. But there’s a huge part of that human connection again, why I’m having such a personal allergic reaction to philanthropy, something that’s based in the separation, to generosity that’s rooted in community. And we know in our gut, that’s what feels right. Again, I met someone recently, who has a sibling who they’re not wealthy, but their superpower is they can buy stuff cheap. And this individual, she actually bought a ton of menstrual products for a young woman’s organization and educational facility. And with her very meager middle class salary, she filled them up for a year, wow, these products, these health, and she didn’t do that as a traditional donor. But because she had the superpower of leverage, she still made that gift, we could have gone through all the rigmarole of evaluating it and fair market value and receding. That’s the world of gift planning. But she said, I’m not looking for the receipt, I wanted to do this together. Next year, when I frankly have a bigger budget, we’ll talk about how to do it more wisely. But this is how we’ll find the real next generation of donors, we’ve got to walk alongside them. Because if we only do it within a patriarchal hierarchy wealth model will only get major gifts and major gift officers as opposed to what I really feel in the future will be fundraisers that can do the transactional because that’s the lower half of the pyramid, we got it. But when it comes to the next half on top, we need human beings that are better fundraisers to human beings.

Mallory Erickson  38:09

I so appreciate everything that you’re saying. And I could not agree with it more. And one of the ways I’ve been thinking about exactly what you’re talking about here is how do we start to separate fund raising from the fund raiser, like we have all these systems of fundraising that are not working for the fundraiser, and they’re not working for the donor either. And what I hear you saying is that the fund raising systems, this is what has been what creates so much of this transactional relationships. And what I’m really interested in is how do we create the conditions for fund raisers to emerge unlocked and embodied? Because that I think is where this human connection comes from? And how do we make sure that those systems and the fund raising isn’t pulling them down into the weeds of things that I love what you talked about things that are trapped in the past? Like, even as you’re explaining these things? I’m like, Oh, my god, yeah. Why are we so obsessed with that thing? Or why do we still do this thing? Because sure, we have to report it to the IRS. But we’ve made it such a bigger thing than it needs to actually be. That’s not the thing that people want, you know, they need that thing. Sure. But like, yeah, it’s just I love the way that you’re talking about these pieces.

Paul Nazareth  39:35

Well, I’m grateful to the people that are leading these conversations, because again, we’re doing the darn work. We can take the car apart while we’re driving down the highway. And so that’s why it’s important that we have academic programs to think and you know, again, St. Mary’s in the States, Carleton, in Canada and others, and again, nonprofit networks, who are thinking about more than just fundraisers again here in Canada, we’ve got the Ontario your nonprofit network, the Calgary Chamber of volunteer organizations, they’ve launched a pension for nonprofits, staff. They’re asking about decent work for all nonprofit staff, primarily women who are the key people, the system’s set up to take advantage of. But they’re asking the hard questions. And they’re designing and reimagining policies, from Cash, money, things like pensions, all the way right now this owning group is gonna, it’s all online. It’s all free. It’s called reimagining governance. And if you read the questions, they’re asking of boards, like why do you exist? And who do you exist to serve? Isn’t the community, the charity, the public, it’s that is when I think of could there ever be a way a world in which I see my values reflected, I’m actually really hopeful that there’s a lot of folks working on that folks that are smarter than me, who, again, I’m thinking, fundraising and just my own little dimension, they’re thinking so much bigger, they really are thinking sector wide. And I’m just so grateful for these folks that again, have done the work. Again, a whole bunch of them have PhDs, I don’t even know why they’re doing the work for this little money. But it’s so obvious they care. They care about the sector, and they understand that even small systems changes are going to make a huge difference. And I can feel like we’re getting closer.

Mallory Erickson  41:19

Okay, I could talk to you forever, I am so grateful for this conversation. Also, you are doing big work. And being a fundraiser being on the ground and in the weeds. And the awareness that you have around all these moving pieces. And consistently bringing these resources to the sector is huge. So I just want to say that, that I am so grateful for you and everything that you are doing to move all these conversations forward. And I learned so much in this conversation today. So thank you, I really appreciate it. 

Paul Nazareth  41:54

Very welcome.

Mallory Erickson  42:02

Wow, there is so much inside this episode. Here are a few of my top takeaways. First of all, our beliefs about generosity influence our connection to the causes organizations and donors we interact with. Number two, seek donors and community organizers that are problem solvers. The more they know about a problem, the more creative they can be with their solutions. Number three, when talking about gift planning, be explicit with your fundraising language. But that doesn’t mean you need to know everything. That’s what financial advisors are for. Number four, don’t be afraid to ask donors about their vision and the meaning behind their donations even after they pass away. You’re not talking about death, you’re talking about legacy. Number five, the systems for fundraising are not helping the fundraisers build connected relationships with donors, the systems are creating transactional relationships. And because the issues nonprofits face are systemic issues, it’s important to explore how we can empower fundraisers to feel supportive ownership over their daily experience without feeling the responsibility to fix something and take responsibility for this entire sector, which isn’t their fault. Okay, for additional takeaways and tips inside this episode, head on over to Mallory erickson.com backslash podcast to grab the full show notes and resources now. You’ll also find more information there about Paul and our amazing sponsors give better. Thank you for spending this time with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you would give it a rating and review and share it with a friend. I am so grateful for all of my listeners and the good hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. And if you miss me between episodes, stop by and say hello on Instagram under what the fundraising underscore. Have great day. And I’ll see you tomorrow for our last episode in this incredible mini series.

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