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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ya gotta have the chemistry.

There's a little article in the Economist dated October 12th that cites research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland -- part of the N.I.H -- who have been searching for the biological basis of altruistic acts have observed neurochemical correlates of a complex social act of great interest to most non-profit organizations - the act of making of monetary donation. The substance involved -- the hormone oxytocin -- has been found in other studies to be involved in various forms of social and interpersonal bonding and trust-building in humans and other mammals.

Fascinating. But short of injecting your prospects before asking them for a donation, how can you get this love juice flowing? Well, the old fashioned way, of course - by building real trust. Guidestar interviewed San Deigo philanthropist Malin Burnham recently. Burnham says that the sense of trustworthiness he gets from a fundraiser is the most important quality that person can bring to the table:
"Nothing is more important than integrity," he says. "I look for it every time someone calls on me. If it's not there, I can spot it immediately."
Integrity in fundraising runs deeper than just "Is this fundraiser lying to me?" It rests on our sense of whether the program as a whole has an honest foundation. We get a queasy feeling from campaigns that just don't feel right, that seem to lack some fundemental integrity. Joe Waters of Selfish Giving explores his queasiness about Bono and his RED campaign in a provocative post that demonstrates how leaving people not sure they believe in you can really backfire as they start discussing their unease in public.

Thanks to Ken Goldstein of The NonProfit Consultant Blog for pointing out the oxytocin research, and Amy Kincaid of Fundraising Breakthroughs for noticing the Burnham interview!


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