Ubuntu: I Am Because of You

Ubuntu is the African word that means "I am because of you." It captures the idea that we are inextricably bound together. I came across this word in a lovely TED talk by Boyd Varty, a South African whose family knew and housed Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison. By chance, Mr. Varty was scheduled to give his TED talk on the very day of Nelson Mandela's death. This talk expresses our interconnectedness so poignantly through simple stories that I'm happy to … [Read more...]

Asking for What You Want by Sarah Kathleen Peck

You probably know that I believe in the power of asking not just as a way of raising money, but as a way of living a full, generous, connected life. I've spent much of my long career writing about asking and teaching about asking. I've even written an entire book on Asking Styles and I cofounded Asking Matters. But today, after I read Sarah Kathleen Peck's post The Art of Asking: or how to ask and get what you want, I was in awe. Here, in a beautifully written piece by … [Read more...]

A Facilitator’s Tip: How to Encourage Discussion without Judgment

If you've ever led a discussion or taken questions after a presentation, you've probably used the phrase, "That's a great question," in an effort to give positive feedback to the person who asked the question. It seems like a normal response and facilitators use it again and again. Good (or Bad) Judgment has a Chilling Effect But if someone else in your audience is thinking about asking a question, your "that's a great question" response may actually discourage them from … [Read more...]

10 Letters to Live By

In the rush of your daily life, there are probably moments -- even days and weeks -- when you forget what's truly important. This ten letter alphabet list, developed by Dr. James R. Doty, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford, is a simple way to stay connected to what matters. C for Compassion. Open your heart for yourself and others. D for Dignity. Recognize the dignity of every human being. E for Equanimity. While acknowledging the ups and downs, try to … [Read more...]

If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?

Do you think that having lots of money leads to happiness? Think again! Study after study shows that more money’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Once our finances cover the basics, our happiness doesn't increase with our income. What Does Buy Happiness? According to Michael Norton in his TED talk, How Can I Buy Happiness?, your happiness is linked not to how much money you have, but rather how you choose to spend it. Simply put, when you spend money on someone … [Read more...]

A Little Bird Told Me…

I'm on vacation in the Berkshires, where my husband and I have rented a beautiful house overlooking the Housatonic River. Two days ago we filled a bird feeder with sunflower seeds, and I settled in and started waiting for the birds to come. Waiting... And waiting. Then, yesterday a little flapper (I'm really not a birder... apologies to those of you who are) made a quick stop at the feeder, grabbed a seed and flew away. Time passed and no more birds –- but, … [Read more...]

Is Kindness One of Your Core Strengths?

At the end of last week’s post about seeing what we look for, I asked you what you would choose to see. A number of people suggested traits like generosity, abundance, love, and kindness. Your suggestions brought me back many years to an “Ah-Ha!” moment in my life — a moment that lit a bulb in my mind and shifted what I look for. Recognizing the Importance of Kindness I was at a meeting of fellow fundraising professionals and, as an ice breaker, the facilitator asked … [Read more...]

The Power of Being Remembered Over Time

You don't have to be in the fundraising business long before you hear about the importance of — no, the critical importance of — thanking people for their gifts immediately. The gold standard for thank you notes is a 24-hour turn around. While I like to be thanked promptly, being thanked again, long after the gift has a special power. A Surprise in My Mail Two years ago, I sent some money to a Kickstarter project involving a group of kids in my South … [Read more...]

The Perfect Gift

Yesterday was my birthday and gift-giving is on my mind. Are you sometimes stymied when you select a gift for someone because you don’t know what’s right? Have you ever gotten a gift that while it’s well-intended but has nothing to do with your interests or tastes? Do you know that hollow sensation of pretending to love a gift you can't stand? Are You a Great Gift Giver? I’ve always envied people who seem to be able to pick just the right gift. And I think I’ve … [Read more...]