24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison

24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison

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“You may have giant dreams and you may want to raise a hundred million dollars in one year. But if you don’t celebrate those small things first, you’re never going to get there.”

– Vik Harrison

Episode #24


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

We pull out different highlight moments from season one of What the Fundraising to talk about how they resonate, while integrating Vik’s knowledge, frameworks and some hard lessons she has learned along her nonprofit journey. 

Fifteen years ago Vik Harrison started building the charity: water brand alongside her (now) husband Scott Harrison. She says it was a build-the-plane-while-flying-it experience. Vik is a friend and a major inspiration to me, the work she developed at charity: water for nine years boosted the nonprofit to become a creative reference on how to develop a nonprofit brand, tell powerful stories, and build a sense of belonging as you engage people in your work. 

Plus, like me and so many of you, Vik is constantly balancing leadership in the nonprofit space with being an amazing mother of two.

24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison

It’s so much fun to chat with Vik and revisit some of my favorite moments from the first season, like when Dr. BJ Fogg joined the show to talk about letting yourself feel successful even if it’s for the tiniest of successes or when Sheri Riley shared the difference between intuition and fear.

Season one was so special, but the good news is that there are still many voices to be heard and many lessons to be learned in Season 2 and beyond. 


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24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison
24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison
24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison

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24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison


Nonprofit Highlight:

Get to know Vik’s nonprofit charity: water!

charity: water works with local partners to implement sustainable, community-owned water projects in remote communities. Since 2006, they have worked with over a million supporters, being able to bring clean and safe water to more than 13 million people around the world.

Visit www.charitywater.org

episode transcript

Mallory: Welcome everyone. I am so thrilled to be here with my friend, Vik Harrison. Thank you so much for joining me for this conversation today. 

Vik: I can’t wait to talk about all the things you have in store for us. 

Mallory: When I was thinking about how do you end a podcast season or start another podcast season and what does it look like to recap some of the biggest highlights of Season One of What The Fundraising, I was like “Oh, we could pull out some of the different frameworks”. I was like, “It would be fun to talk through that with…”

Vik: Nerdy friend? 

Mallory: Yeah. So first I feel like you are someone who needs no introduction, but tell us a little bit about yourself and just your journey and what you’re doing now. And I know the past few years in particular have been full of exciting changes and developments. So give everyone a sneak peek inside. 

Vik: Hi everyone. I’m Vik Harrison. Vik stands for Viktoria, just in case you’re wondering. And a long time ago. Gosh, almost 16 years ago. I, alongside my husband, Scott, co-founded an organization called charity: water and bring clean water to people around the world. About six years ago, I left my position there after a nine year wonderful growth season. I was the creative director and the head of creative and storytelling at the organization for nine years, built a team, built out our brand and learned so much about just the importance of design, marketing, great storytelling, and approaching everything with excellence.

And I wanted to bring that to many of the startup nonprofits who reached out to us all throughout our growth trajectory and still do every single day. I wanted to find a way to pass on the knowledge that we learned all throughout the growth of charity: water onto a lot of the new startup nonprofits that are being founded every single day.

And it just warms my heart and brings me so much meaning in my life to be able to Usher in and see this new generation of non-profits who are really reinventing charity, which was our dream at charity: water. So right now I love teaching and counseling and coaching startup nonprofits. I have an online course called the monthly giving launch guide, which is training nonprofits, how to have a sustainable source of revenue through monthly giving and doing it a little bit differently. 

Again, pulling on a lot of the knowledge that we learned from starting our monthly giving product and program at charity: water called the spring over six years ago. So yeah, I just love to geek out.

I also, it’s funny Mallory, that you mentioned frameworks and systems. The other day I was talking to Scott, my husband. I love coaching people, but I love just to go in and give them really quick advice about how they can make something better. I don’t understand how you do what you do, because you take all of these concepts and frameworks and principles and you take people like start to finish in a course.

I don’t know how you do that. And I’m like “That’s so cool”. Because we think so differently. I cannot inject myself into someone’s one project. And get it and get out very quickly and feel like I’ve given them really good advice. I need to start all the way in the beginning and teach like the foundations first, all the way to the end.

He’s like “Yeah, we’re just so different that way”. And I love it. I’m a total nerd. I love talking about the deeper meaning behind things, the principles and frameworks that make people do what they do and end up with a result they love. 

Mallory: I feel like one of the things that you and I both are always hungry for is like what’s happening outside of the nonprofit sector that we can learn inside.

And part of that for you, I think comes more naturally because you started outside of the sector. Whereas for me, my whole life had been inside the sector and I was like, this is just not working. Where are the answers? And so I just love that they are always looking around at who’s doing what, where, and you have bounds. It seems in terms of the way you integrate learning and frameworks into the work that you do. 

Vik: Thank you.

Mallory: And I’ll just give one other plug to the monthly giving guide is that I think because of actually what you said about yourself in the way that you really take people from start to finish, I’ve taken the course and there is so much in there really that are foundational building blocks around building the brand of your organization. There’s so much in there that I wish as an executive director I could have learned from when I was just building the organization.

Vik: Thank you. Well, hopefully if things go as planned, my next course is going to be on the grassroots of marketing, a startup, nonprofit, and how to spin up that brand and how to tell stories well and how it all works together to really get your message out there effectively.

Mallory: All right. So here’s what we’re going to do. We are going to pull out different highlight moments from season one of What The Fundraising, and then we’re just going to talk about them and hear your experience with maybe integrating or utilizing these frameworks or any hard lessons you’ve learned along the way.

I know some of these things are things I’m like “Man, I wish someone had said this to me 15 years ago”. And so we’re going to have fun and move through it. I’m not going to go in order of episodes. So we did this episode with Dr. BJ Fogg. He is the author of the book Tiny Habits, and he is a scientist at Stanford.

One of the things he talked about, he talked about so much about habit and behavior design change on that point. But one of the things he talks about is the superpower of being able to show yourself shine, which he defines as celebrating your own successes. And he says that one of the biggest challenges that people face in terms of really solidifying habits is that they aren’t willing to celebrate small behaviors.

They’re only willing to say the big, massive successes. And so when we can show ourselves shine for picking up the phone, before we call the donor or opening our email little things like that, actually create the momentum that we need to continue to take those scary actions that we might feel some resistance around. What do you think about that? What’s been your experience with that? 

Vik: I love that. Yeah. A couple of things are coming up for me. I think that we talk about, from time to time, just Scott and myself in our conversations that I think in the nonprofit space specifically, it’s, it’s often very tempting to have this mentality where you can start to believe this lie, that if I am almost coming from like this Beggar’s mindset, if I am, if I make myself small and ask very nicely, and if one of my donors walk into my office, it better not look very nice, because then they won’t give me donations because they’ll think I have everything I need. 

And there’s this mindset that we believe works. And in fact, we’ve built charity: water from day one in opposition to that, if you will. We strongly believe, and we’ve seen this in our lives that people may give to you if you really need something.

And if you’re needy or if you’re coming from a place of need initially, but it’s not attractive to people to be around and to be a part of an organization, a movement, a thing, a campaign. Devaluing themselves, or that has a low opinion of themselves or is coming from this mindset all the time. And so that’s just firing in my brain with what you said, because I believe in the beginning, we were almost afraid to talk about our wins as an organization, as a newly started non-profit because we thought, okay, like if we celebrate ourselves too much, if we toot our own horn too much, there was this belief, false belief that donors will think that, okay, well, they must not need my money.

In fact that is the complete opposite. People are attracted to success. People are attracted to something that’s working. People want to be part of something that’s working. So what that means for you is when you pick up your phone, the phone, maybe you’re sitting by the phone the whole day waiting for your first donor to call.

I mean, no one does it anymore, but that’s the analogy here is that if you’re waiting for your first comment on your social media posts, like when that first comment comes, act like you’ve done an awesome job act like you are the bomb and that energy will attract more people to whatever it is you’re doing. That confidence, that initial leaning into that confidence will attract more people to you.

Mallory: Yeah, I love that. So I think that is so true. And it’s the same energy that we feel if you celebrate yourself for that first light or that first engagement or that first share that’s motivating and booing you too. So it’s like, I think what you’re saying is you talk a lot about confidence, which I love is that confidence is also contained to you, right? It matters in terms of how that energy transfers to your audience and your people, but it also has a huge impact on your willingness to take that next action. So if you really celebrate that first comment or that first share on your posts, you’re gonna feel less resistance to posting again the next time.

And so what you’re talking about, the momentum and engagement with donors, it’s so connected to the momentum and engagement you feel with. 

Vik: Absolutely. And this actually makes me think of a story I’ve told before. And I told the story in response to so many people often when they reach out to me, you know, they’re asking how can my organizations in year one, but I’m looking at charity: water in year 15, and I’m comparing my year one to your year, 15, all these things in a where we’ve not done enough, we’re going so slow and things are so hard.

It makes me think back to the. $10,000 donation that we got nowadays. $10,000 comes in multiple times a day to charity: water. But I remember it probably was like month, four month five. We were still in Scott’s living room, working around his kitchen table. We hadn’t had our first office yet, but that first $10,000, like we knew we wanted to change the world and solve the water crisis.

We knew we had such a big dream. But the first time we got that, that relatively small donation, again, I say relatively because I know. It’s starting out. That’s not small, but we went and bought ourselves a cake. We went out and we bought a cake and we celebrated that first thousand dollars with a cake.

So I tell that story just to say, yes, you may have giant dreams and you may want to raise a hundred million dollars in a year, one year. But if you don’t celebrate those small things first, you’re never going to get there in a biblical principle. There’s a verse in the Bible that says “to him who is trusted with much first must be trusted with little.”

So there’s paraphrasing, but God is not going to just trust you with a lot If you first can’t be trusted with a little and being part of being trusted with a little is actually celebrating that, that little thing. 

Mallory: Hmm. I love that. I love that. And I want to go back to what you were talking about before, in terms of the sort of energy you give off to donors and the things that people want to be a part of and how you guys really built that.

So intentionally that charity. In a number of different ways. Then in episode 15, I talked with this woman Hillary dough, and we talked a lot about belonging and understanding, and she’s created a lot of networked models and movements around organizing. And one of the things she talked about was how do you create.

Community that both identifies with your brand and take some ownership of it, how do you find that balance between being really clear about the brand and being really kind of protective of the brand while giving the people who believe in you and want to support you the agency and the support to really belong and then take some ownership over furthering the mission by fundraising or being advocates and telling the story?  How do you think about helping organizations find that balance? 

Vik: Yes. Well, that’s a really good topic because we’ve thought about this so much. And when we first designed our logo and we were super proud of it, we’re like, and again, I’m coming from a branding agency background where when you build a brand you’re super tight with your brand assets and your brand guidelines, right.

People produce giant brand books and they have, like, this is how many pixels of space you must put around our logo and you can’t crowd it with other logos and blah, blah, all the things, right. You can never use our logo and these colors or that color and whatever. So when we started building my charity: water community, which is our community fundraisers, we started seeing people wanting to take our logo and do all kinds of crazy things with it.

They made decals of it and painted in different colors and wanted to put it on the back of their van because they were doing a cross country ride across the United States for charity: water for clean water. And the first reaction, the first impulse, I would say. Both Scott and I were like “Oh no, no, no, we got to shut this down”.

We can not let people take our logo and do whatever the heck they want to it.They would Photoshop it in two different scenarios and put little stick figures around it all kinds of crazy things. But then we had just a moment for a second and said, where’s this belief coming from that we have to be super uptight and super controlling with our brand.

What if we said, okay, what comes out of charity: water’s headquarters? That smaller design team that is all controlled, consistent, exactly how we want. And that’s our flagship core brand, everything else that people, but what if we let our fundraisers express some of their creativity and make our brand their own?

And in our mind, we’ve just made this distinction at that moment and never looked back. We said, we’re going to let our fundraisers, our donors take our brand and use it in any way they want, because Then they’ll feel like they have a little bit of a little piece of ownership. I’m not kind of cool partnering with us and it’s okay.

Like, it’s just, okay. Of course, if there’s an edge case where there’s cigarettes involved or alcohol or who knows what, right. Anything inappropriate, like we’ll reach out and we’ll shut it down. But short of that, who cares if they use a different color on our logo at the end of the day, you’re not going to see that on our website. You’re not going to see that from charity: water’s headquarters. 

Mallory: I love that. Hillary said on the podcast too, that the chances of people doing that thing, you’re really scared of putting charity: water next to cigarettes, or what’s. It’s so rare and so unlikely, and that even when it does happen, it’s so clear.

It’s not actually related to the organization because everybody else is really clear about who the organization is and what they’re all about. And she also says, which I think you guys did so well is this is really only possible when the central mission and. Is really clear when that’s floppy, then this piece around co-ownership can get a bit messy.

Vik: That’s a really good point. I never even thought about that. That’s true because if your core brand is not established or is a little bit unclear all over the place, whether that’s design-wise or how you message or the types of people that speak for you. If that’s unclear, then it’s a little bit more like an individual could say, well, I can’t tell the difference between if somebody puts your logo next to something controversial or whether that’s coming from you or not from you, but really, yeah.

The downsides are so small compared to the upside, right? Sharing your brand and coal partnering with your community. There’s so much upside there that the downside is really minuscule compared to what you get the amount of. Co-creators you get to be in partnership with who are your folks who want to take you to places that you don’t otherwise have access to like their companies, their offices, and their groups.

That they’re a part of. And the other thing I would say about community, because, you know, part of this conversation we’re having is about building communities. Some of the kind of rituals around community building have always been so helpful for us. So if you think about, even more ancient communities and what, how they’re built and the rituals around them, a couple of things come to mind for me. 

Tight-knit communities always have a welcome ritual and always have an exit ritual. Right? So part of, for example, the spring community or community of monthly donors, as part of that, we have a welcome ritual for them when they come into the community. We make them a thank you video.

We have a set of welcome emails, and then when they exit, we actually write them and call them and thank them for having been a part of it. And there are many other rituals in between that are sandwiched between the entrance and the exit, but those types of community rituals are what make a community.

So just inviting people in and we in, you know, sitting back and waiting for them to be a part of whatever you’ve created. You’ve also got to start thinking about what are going to be those rituals that are going to define and distinguish our community because that’s what makes it a community.

And then on top of that, you got to co-partner with community members. They’re going to come up with their own rituals that are going to be adopted by everybody else. It may not be your idea as the head entity, but that’s what makes it a community, right? 

Mallory: Mm, I love that. And you’re a few times throughout everything you just said, this theme of curiosity came up, right? Like you said, our initial impulse was this, and then we stepped back and we said, what if this, or what about this? And curiosity came from such a pattern throughout the entire season. It was mentioned on so many different episodes as a real tool and skill, particularly on episode number one with Dr. Ethan Kross, he talks a lot about how you quiet the chatter in your mind. So when you’re having that sort of cycling self-talk one of the strategies that he talked about is how do we zoom out when we’re dealing with a problem? Often we go right into tunnel vision, right? We’re in judgment, black and white thinking, not a lot of opportunities or options exist there.

And so how do we actually zoom out and, and be able to increase essentially our capacity to deal with the challenge. And curiosity was one of the themes that came up in that. Is that something you use? So naturally I’m curious, are you conscious of having so much curiosity in a way that really supports your work?

Vik: Thank you! That’s a really high compliment Mallory. I also suffer from the same ailments that all of us do and tunnel vision happens all the time and we make assumptions and all of that, but I think what really has served us at charity: water, and this is something I’ll carry for the rest of my life is we set out with the vision of reinventing charity and that’s the state of division of the organization.

We want to reinvent charity for our generations and future generations. With that vision, you have to do things differently, whether you want to, or not like you can’t reinvent charity by doing the same old stuff and leading, leaning on the same old principles and ways of doing things that the charity world, the nonprofit world has done before.

So that’s really helped us. And I would say. That’s a value that I would urge more nonprofits to consider. How do we do things differently? Right. I mean, I remember reading something a while back that said the charity sector is one of the most stagnant uninvented sectors in all of business commerce, et cetera.

Right. If you take the tech world, the business world, the world of healthcare, many other businesses, Fields have had so much innovation over the past hundred years, not so true in the charity space. I think it’s changing. Thank goodness over the last 10, 20 years, but I think there’s still so much work.

We all need to continue to reinvent. And curiosity has to be a part of that. If you’re not curious, if okay, what are the 10 other ways I could do this besides the one way that. You know, it is assumed by everybody as best practice. I think best practice is like the worst phrase. That’s charity. 

Mallory: No, no. Oh God, I totally agree.

Vik: So, yeah. I just believe it’s absolutely necessary for us to start catching up because we serve one of the most important roles in humanity, right? Like we are as a whole non-profit sector. We are thinking every day, but how to help the most marginalized? And issues that the world of business and commerce doesn’t spend as much time thinking about.

So we’re not able to reinvent and constantly come up with new solutions. There’s lives at stake there’s people who will go hungry and go without a shelter. And so this work is perhaps some of the most important work human beings can be doing. Then I think our level of innovation has to match that importance.

Mallory: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And it’s so interesting to me because. In some ways it’s so obvious. This is change-making work, right? This is breaking the status quo, going up against the status quo, everything about it should be innovation and iteration because we’re trying to solve problems that haven’t been solved before, so we’re not selling jeans.

Mallory: Exactly. So it is really fascinating. And I think so much of it relates to a lot of old school narratives around fundraising and funding and that you and I have talked about before. And I just think it is so critical. For us to be thinking, always thinking about, okay, when something is not working. I also, if I can get rid of anything like best practices and nonprofits, I’m like “What does that even mean?”.

Vik: I want to stop you for a second because I think there’s a really important piece of this. We could spend three minutes talking back on the subject of innovation or being afraid to innovate and wanting to default or fall back onto best practices as non-profits, it’s this false understanding of what our responsibility is to the donor.

As a nonprofit space, generally, it’s tempting to believe that our responsibility to the donor is just to go and be very short-sighted and make sure we use every single penny of their money in service of right. Like the most safe solution possible so that there’s never a chance of them saying you wasted my money, but.

In truth. How many donors, if you really asked them, right? If you really truly asked them, what do they really want? They want to see leaps and bounds, more change and more progress in these issues we’re tackling. Then they have. More typically. So in order for that to happen, you’ve got to use some donor money for more risky solutions.

You’ve got to try things, new things that have never been tried before. And so I think we, as a sector, need to start to make that shift to, you know, understand that our responsibility to the donor is actually to effectively tackle problems. And part of that is taking risks. Some of their money and there’s so many different ways that we can go about doing that.

But one of the quickest ways to mitigate that rust issue that comes with taking risks is just to be transparent. Tell your donors, Hey, maybe it’s like, Hey, how many of you want to contribute to this really risky? Some of you may want to contribute to the safer thing that we do, but we have this little pilot project that we need to raise a hundred thousand dollars for and it’s risky.

And I’m telling you, we’ve done this before. So many donors will raise their hand to do that. So there’s definitely ways of mitigating that, but we have to stop believing that the best way we can please our donors is just safety, safety, safety, because that’s not going to facilitate innovation and progress.

Mallory: Oh, that is such an important point. It’s interesting because as you were talking about, I was thinking about how so many of our donors are also investors that have diversified portfolios around the level of risk that they’re willing to take pre-seed investors. What 5% of startups actually go somewhere, maybe it’s closer to seven or eight.

I’m not sure, but most of them, 93% of them are going to fail. They raised tons and tons and tons of money around trying not innovation. Why should the nonprofit sector be left out of that opportunity? It shouldn’t be, we are perpetuating those narratives by doing exactly what you’re saying, taking the safe route, because we’ve made up a story.

And I think this is actually connected to our resilience or lack of resilience around rejection and failure in the sector. So let’s talk about that. So interesting. That was what I was going to bring up next. In this episode with Donovan Taylor Hall, he talks about how you create inner safety so that you can handle the fact that not everyone’s going to like you, not, everyone’s going to want to work with you.

Sometimes something is going to fail and you’re going to get that one mean email from a donor. And you’re going to think that’s the whole story. How do you think about or deal with even personally, separate from charity: water? Those types of emotional components to all this. 

Vik: Yeah, I think that’s where you get into the spiritual part of life.

Right? What grounds you at the deepest level, in your, whether it’s your spirituality or your core belief system? For me, it’s Christianity for other people that may be something very different, but you’ve got to have a really strong, inner core belief system to be able to do this work and to be able to take risks in general.

Right. That’s just the human. Flight struggle. When we go through seasons where we’re really vulnerable, we’re just not going to be as open to taking on a lot of risk. A lot of criticism, a lot of being challenged at our core, potentially sometimes our integrity being challenged.

That’s not a customer saying “Hey, my shipment didn’t arrive on time”.That’s going straight down to your core values of who you believe you are. It really hits you in your identity. So that’s where I believe your identity first has to be rooted in a deeper belief system. For me, it’s God. And my relationship with Jesus.

And I got to make sure that my game is there. I am investing in my spiritual walk daily, weekly, so that I can go out into the world and not crumble at the first sign of criticism or some kind of an attack from an angry donor or employee or whoever. 

Mallory: Um, yeah, I think this is such a daily practice.

I think about the things that would rock me 10 years ago, versus the things that rock me today. And it doesn’t mean that I’m never jolted by those emails or have those moments of, oh, that like kind of pain in my heart, in my belly where I’m questioning myself for that moment. But I feel like the skill I’ve built over time to bring myself out of that or be grounded in my values. 

This actually just came up with, in the podcast with Heather Sager, she coaches virtual presence, and she’s a speaking coach and she talks about feedback and how sometimes we get feedback. And what we really have to do is say, okay, is this feedback helpful?

First of all, is it true? And is it helpful? And if it’s true and it’s helpful, then, okay, maybe there’s something there to consider in terms of making change going forward, but really being able to evaluate that from a place of inner identity or connection or being grounded in those things. I think that’s just so, so important.

Vik: So even if you have a strong core foundation in your spirituality, whatever, that doesn’t mean that when something like that hits you, you don’t feel shame. You feel shame. You still feel that shame. The only difference really is that it doesn’t knock your feet out from under you, but you still feel like your whole day is clouded and Graham we’ve had so many moments, almost daily. Now there’s something within the organization that bubbles up to Scott or somebody is unhappy or somebody reports like, you know, they went to the wrong address and now they’re angry because they think that we didn’t tell them where their money went all the time, right. Something like that is happening.

And often you can sort of those little things you can let go, especially if you’re running an organization where you have plays and support and they go and deal with those things and you don’t have to deal with them personally. But when something hits you that. Put you in that shame space, you have to have an army of close people that you can call because everyone talks about Bernay brown.

She’s like the prolific shame person, researcher, but she talks about this all the time. When you’re hit with that shame, the best way to let go of it. You gotta let it out. You got to tell somebody, you got to tell a couple of people and I know Mallory. You remember when I called you? I said, I had a little incident with my five-year-old that resulted in me feeling so shameful about what.

Something very small that caused her to be afraid for five minutes. And I made the wrong decision as a mom and it blew over quickly, but I was left for days, feeling this really big shame about why would I think this is a pain to do? How could I have done this? What’s wrong with me? I’m a bad mom. And the only way I walked through it, a core identity.

This is something you did. This is not who you are, but also I called six friends and you were one of them. And I just told you the story. And I had just expressed all my shame and vomited it all out over the phone call. And that made me feel better. And that’s actually how it works. So if something hits you like that, pick up the phone, call some friends, just speak it out loud and it will pass.

Because what happens, right? Is like when you get that feedback from people who you tell them, this thing that you think is associated for, that happens to you and you think they’re going to say, yeah, you should be shamed. You’re it’s true. You are about, but instead they don’t, they say, oh, no, you’re fine.

You just made the wrong decision. It’s okay. So they roughly mirror back to your true identity and it comms that those shame signals firing in. 

Mallory: Hmm. I love that. And I remember that, and I remember thinking that day that not only did. I’m glad I could support you at that moment. And for me as a mom, I feel like when we share those stories with each other, we also reduce the shame that somebody else is feeling about something else, or just normalizes the fact that we’re all going to have experiences like that. I was like, Hey. Anyone else? Do you ever feel this way?  Fundraising? Cause I felt really ashamed when the donor said blank and it was just this wave of relief. After 10, 13 years of holding in all these feelings I had about being bad. 

Vik: As a bad fundraiser, doing something wrong or being bad for talking about money. Right. Or saying something that was inappropriate or too soon or asking for too much. There’s so much for sure in that, because you’re dealing with people of wealth. So there’s already kind of this unspoken hierarchy, right?

That you’re coming in as the lower person. And they’re the person who you need something from. And of course, all of that is untrue, but that’s how, that’s the dynamic that we often yeah are victim to or falsely believe in. 

Mallory: I’m curious, one of the things that came up, so Jennifer Pastiloff talks a lot about shame loss and in her episode, one of the things that she talks about is her practice of tapping into her body too.

So she’s a yoga teacher as well, and a writer. She wrote the book on being human, just a really incredible person, but she talks about how one of her practices around releasing shame, or even just being tapped more into that grounded nature is awareness around her body. And what happens when her feet touched the floor in the morning?

I’m curious. Do you have any movement practices or meditation practices or maybe it is still rooted in your faith? That helps you connect with your body? Because sometimes shame is just so semantic. Right? It’s okay. I feel like I solved that thing in my head, but man, my belly still feels really ungoverned.

Vik: Yeah, I know. And I want to, I need this book, so please send me a copy. 

Mallory: I will send you the book. 

Vik: I really am such a believer in chronic pain coming from your emotional pain. And there’s an app that I loved and listened to and have been a subscriber for years now. It’s called Curable. It’s amazing.

It’s the most incredible thing I’ve found for Long-term health. It is an app that has a lot of free teaching and a lot of success stories of people who got out of chronic pain that’s not caused by an immediate injury, let’s say, but it’s just maybe migraines or chronic back pain for 20 years.

Different things like that. And part of it is. Even just starting to understand how your brain chemistry works with your emotions and how pain originates in the brain. So if you’re feeling constant chronic pain, that’s not related to a cot or something really immediate means your brain has learned.

These pathways have carved these pathways over time and keep firing that pain signal. They take you through the most immersive experience with lots of little meditations, little exercises, little. Very new things that I’ve never done before, many exercises and lessons that start to really retrain your brain away from those firing signals that cause chronic pain.

Mallory: Amazing. Okay, this is why I love you so much. And why have we become such fast friends? I am a curable user as well.

Vik: I was so excited that you were bringing it up because I also, so I started using it. When I was having chronic neck pain, I had tried everything under the sun.

Somebody recommended the book. I think it’s called how to heal your back, which is some of the foundational science that informs Curable. And it changed everything for me. And it’s interesting. It actually relates a lot to the episode I did with Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, who wrote How Emotions Are Made.

This was totally accidental. So funny the way things just come full circle. So I bring her on the podcast to talk about the emotions of fundraising. We end up throughout the episode talking about chronic pain quite a bit, because she had just had back surgery. So she was in this moment where she’s like the leading science around understanding the relationship between the brain and how we feel. And then here she is at this moment in her life where she’s having to use her own science to say “Okay, I feel that sensation. Is it pain? Is it just something new?”. And she’s actually using what she has been preaching for a long time to keep herself out of chronic pain.

The state. And so we talked, I think in that episode, I mentioned curable too. And just the way all these things come together, one of the things in the book, the how to heal your back book that I think is probably incurable in one of the lessons too. But what I feel like is so applicable to fundraisers is they say that one of the things that happens when you develop chronic pain is that your body starts to sense a tiny thing.

And then. It makes the assumption that you’re going to go into a full pain state like you did before, perhaps if it did come from an injury. And so it immediately, even at the tiniest sense, explodes. Right? And so in the book, I think they say that the goal of really rewiring your brain is that right now, when you light a match, the whole sprinkler system in your house is going off.

I feel like there’s almost this chronic emotional pain of fundraising, right? We are just these self-fulfilling prophecies around how uncomfortable we’re going to feel and how inauthentic we might feel and just all these different things.

And we’re predicting. Into our future and into our fundraising experience and into our organization. And it does require the rewiring of these systems, understanding these systems and what’s happening inside your brain. How do you tell a different story if you ultimately want to feel different as a fundraiser?

Vik: Absolutely fundraising is kind of similar to entrepreneurship. If you have a bunch of limiting beliefs, you’re not going to get very far. And I think Tony Robbins says this, that your level of success never surpasses your level of personal development. So you’re only going to be as successful as much personal development as you’ve done, that’s a clunky way of saying that, but you know what I’m saying? So the more you develop yourself personally, like you’re saying with awareness about all of these triggers you might be feeling and how to mitigate them sooner rather than later, how to not be a slave to them, the more success you’ll have, and that’s true for fundraising or building a nonprofit or building a company.

But can we just talk for a second about how obsessed I am with Laurie sagos voice on that care. Well, it’s just, I want her to be like my mom. She’s so calm. She’s so quiet and sweet and just, uh, so soothing. It’s so soothing. 

Mallory: I know it is so soothing. I’ve never. Talk to anyone else who loves the app. I love what I’m talking about.

Vik: Such a weirdo, but shout out to Curable.

Mallory: I know there’s no product placement here. We are just literally both obsessed with this app. Oh my gosh. I love that. And you know what you were just saying like Tony Robbins. In the episode with Lisa Fabrega, she is a capacity coach. She talks about how we grow our capacity and how are you going to solve a gallon size problem with a pint size container.

If you’ve only developed a certain amount of your capacity, then when that other stuff comes in, this kind of goes back to what you were saying, which is really interesting about the Bible quote that you used. First, you need to be trusted with this before you’re going to be trusted with something bigger.

And so I, I just think there is so much there. And as the non-profit sector can get so deep into the scarcity mindset around, we don’t have the resources for professional development, or we don’t have all these things. That to me is one of the biggest problems that is keeping the sectors. 

Vik: Yeah. I mean, that’s, that goes right back to responsibility for the donor. And you’re like, “Well, our donors are not gonna want to pay for professional coaching. It’s expensive. It’s an indirect cost. It’s unnecessary. Let’s just all shut up”. Suck it up, you know, and like we martyr ourselves and then we burn out and then we don’t get the job done. 

Mallory: Totally. Okay. So this is a little bit of a difference, well, maybe actually this is the right transition. So I did this series on political fundraising, which was fascinating because I did not know a lot about political fundraising and it was. Amazing with this organization called Lee. And I talked to a few of them, there were three different episodes, but one of their staff members, Tanya St. Julian, she talks about this concept of future winners.

She talks about how important it is in the fundraising space. I feel like this is related to what we’re saying about the need for innovation and trying things. And even failure is that most of these political candidates are not going to win the first time around.

And for me as a donor or like somebody who’s solicited for money for political campaigns all the time, I’m always like, well, I have the limiting belief. Like, what are they gonna do? Are they going to win because if they will then maybe I’ll give to them, but do I think they have a chance at winning? And what I realized through this whole thing is that is like fundamentally the wrong question, because what happens during these political campaigns is that when you’re investing in a candidate, you’re investing in them going to 250 doors and talking about the core issues that you care about.

You’re investing in advocacy, you’re investing in creating. Community power and voting blocks and all these things. And so they just have this really beautiful long game mentality. And then when somebody does win, it buoys them for 2000 losses. They just have such a flip, I think on the way we think about it in the nonprofit sector where.

So hyper-focused on what if we fail this one time? And I’m like “These people are putting thousands of folks in races”. Many of them are going to lose the first time and they see so much value in the race, in the professional development of the person. I feel like we’re so shortsighted in the sector about what is valuable and what is not valuable. What do you think about it? 

Vik: Interesting. That’s so fascinating. And it’s true. And once you start talking about it, it makes so much sense, but you’re right. We’re in, you’re in about, I would say I’m the same way. Why would I vote for someone who I don’t think is going to win? But that’s what hinders you from voting for someone that aligns with your values and what you truly believe this candidate is going to go and knock on 200 doors and maybe they’ll change the mind of 10 of those 200 people about the way they think about a certain political issue. That’s already progress. 

Mallory: Yeah, so I could talk to you forever, but we need to get you to Emma’s holiday celebration. So tell everyone where they can find you. I’ll make sure all the links are below, but what’s the best way for folks to connect with you and work with you and all that.

Vik: Oh, yeah. Thank you. Oh my gosh.

This was so fun and so refreshing to not talk about the stuff that people always tend to talk about, which is like click-through rates and mobile optimization. I don’t know about fundraising funnels. So this has been such a treat for me, friends. Thank you so much. Oh my gosh, so fun. People can find me@missioncritical.co or Vik Harrison on instagram. 

Mallory: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, this was so fun for me. I cannot think of a better way to wrap up season one and entrust into season two. So I am wishing you the best and I can’t wait to talk again soon.

Vik: Yeah. Okay. Love you. Bye. Bye

24: What the Fundraising Season 1 Recap with Vik Harrison

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22: Doing Anti-Racism and Social Change Work from Inside and Outside the System with Nicole Parker
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