One of the added benefits of being editor of CausePlanet is that I get to read a different book about the nonprofit sector (or a great cross-over book from the business sector, like The Wisdom of Crowds) each month. Each book offers something different, and gets me thinking about new ways of doing things or emerging trends to write about. I recently finished Reynold Levy’s Yours for the Asking for our November Page to Practice™. There were several things that struck me about this book, but I wanted to just touch on two briefly.
First, it is clear from reading his book that no one loves their job more than Dr. Levy! Although he says that most people who are obligated to ask for money on behalf of the organization they serve “would rather walk slowly over hot coals,” Dr. Levy is clearly not one of them. He makes fundraising actually seem fun—and something that anyone can do, no matter the size of your organization or your experience.
One of the premises of his book is that the money is out there, even during these hard economic times. People are waiting to be asked; they give because they are asked. Being a “people person,” I have oftentimes thought that fundraising would be an ideal profession for me, because I love talking to people and finding out about their interests and backgrounds. However, I’m one of those people who would rather walk over hot coals than ask anyone for money. Dr. Levy gives people like me the tools to ask for money—as well as the inspiration to go out and get the funds you need to support your cause.
The second thing I often get from reading our Page to Practice™ books is exposure to new and sometimes unknown nonprofits. Dr. Levy is president of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, so naturally he writes a lot about his experiences fundraising there. It was interesting to read about the big galas and other events the Center puts on each year—as well as the huge amounts of money that are donated every year. Dr. Levy makes the case for nurturing large boards of directors, both for their expertise as well as their fundraising potential.
What really caught my attention, though, was that before coming to the Center, Dr. Levy was president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a 75-year-old organization that provides shelter, clean water, healthcare and education to displaced people in war-torn regions of the world. With the United States currently fighting two wars in two countries, the IRC’s work seems more crucial than ever. What responsibility do we as a nation have for the displaced people of Iraq and Afghanistan? It’s worth checking out the IRC’s Web site to see what they do and how you can help.