The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising
May 13, 2013
By Ann Paisley Chandler
Jeffrey C. Walker currently serves on the Boards of New Profit, Berklee College of Music, Morgan Library, Lincoln Center Film Society, Millennium Development Goals Health Alliance where he Chairs the Community Health Worker Pillar, The Miller Center and University of Virginia’s Undergraduate Business School, where he was President for ten years. He is a partner in Bridge Builders investment fund. Jeff is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium, Chairman of The Council of Foundations at University of Virginia (UVA), serves on the Visiting Committee at the Harvard Business School and is on the Advisory Boards of MIT Media Lab, UCLA Film TV and Theater School, Center for Contemplative Sciences at UVA, Blue School, The Tibetan Village Project, Witness.org and Ideo.org. He is President of the 15 Central Park West Board.
Previously, Jeff was Executive-in-Residence at Harvard Business School, focusing on social enterprises and collaboration, and a Lecturer at the Kennedy School. At Harvard, he also helped to develop and launch a course in exponential fundraising for nonprofit leaders at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
He served as the Chairman of Millennium Promise, with the United Nations and Columbia University, an incubator to eliminate extreme poverty, and was the long-time Chairman of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), where he still serves as an Emeritus Trustee. Jeff Co-Founded and was Chairman of Npower, an organization that provides shared technology services to nonprofits.
For twenty five years Jeff was CEO and Co-Founder of CCMP Capital, the $12 billion successor to JPMorgan Partners, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s global private equity, Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. He has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. from the University of Virginia, is a Certified Management Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant.
Jennifer McCrea is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and the founder of Exponential Fundraising (www.jennifermccrea.com).For the past 25 years, she has partnered with philanthropists, board members and nonprofit leaders to think more creatively and collaboratively about ways in which to align strategic direction and resources to address some of the most profound needs on the planet: improving health, caring for children, relieving global poverty, educating the leaders of tomorrow and supporting the transformation of people and organizations to enable the emergence of a just, peaceful, compassionate and sustainable world.
Jennifer has worked with many of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations and leaders, including Millennium Promise, Acumen Fund, Donorschoose.org, Grameen America, Council on Foreign Relations, Teach for America, Pencils of Promise, Witness, Mercy Corps, Comic Relief, X Prize Foundation, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, Creative Commons, VisionSpring, Robin Hood Foundation, New Profit, and many others.
Jennifer is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, serves as an advisory board member of the MIT Media Lab and the Blue School and is also a co-founder and board member of the Quincy Jones MusiQ Consortium, an organization that unites leaders in the music industry, nonprofit organizations, corporations, foundations and philanthropists to make music an ongoing part of the lives of children. She is also a co-founder of the Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free, an initiative of the MDG Health Alliance that brings private sector resources and acumen to the goal of eradicating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
In fall 2013, The Generosity Network, written by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker, will be published by Crown Publishing at Random House. In a conversation with Ann Paisley Chandler, they discuss their upcoming book.
Jeff Walker: The Generosity Network is about changing the perspective of the world regarding working on the big causes of the day.Asking others for money and then working on the issues you are passionate about is an old model of operation, whether at a church, a University, a nonprofit or a major aid agency.Instead it is a process of finding others who you can partner with, share resources and ideas and networks to accomplish goals that could not have been even considered by one person or entity.Dropping the walls between donors, board members, executive directors, fundraisers, alumni and others is critical.Connecting networks of passion together and putting together collaborations significantly increases the odds of success.
The new world of technology, global linkages and innovation is allowing us to bring partners together that would not have been possible in the past.Instead of just having the Global Fund and USAID and the United Nations working on Malaria we have companies local to each country, global companies, local health ministers, family foundations and individuals who are all coming together for a common, measurable, impact – reducing deaths from Malaria.This hasn’t happened before.
Through this book we talk about how to open conversations with people [and] have a walls down discussion about their passions and interests.These are not “selling” techniques…these are “connecting” methods.We discuss how to connect people to efforts you and others are involved in and how to bring them in as partners and retaining them.We offer tools and techniques for connecting and collaborating and going deeper in relationships than ever before.
And when it works you see the gleam in the eyes of those who have come together….you hear them talk about the joy of connecting and working together.People we have worked with describe the path of co-creation a step toward a more meaningful life.
Jennifer McCrea: Also, this book is grounded in the belief that resources flow. Resources like time, creativity, networks, ideas, passion and money. These resources are ours to leverage.They are abundant and available right now to be put into use for our work in the world. Unfortunately, they can get stuck and stalled, in large part, because of the barriers we erect around them.
One of the biggest barriers is our problematic relationship with money. In the book, we invite people to start to have an honest look at their own relationship with money.For example, what values do you infuse in money – the values of fear, scarcity, power and control or the values of courage, commitment, justice and even love?We also emphasize that while money is a critically important resource, it’s the means not the end.It is just the gas you put in the car to make it run, not the car itself or the driver or the destination. People’s perception of fundraising is often that it’s just about the money.
There are a lot of other obstacles we cover in the book, like the fear of rejection, the fear of too much competition, or the fear of fear itself.People often use fear to justify inaction: The problems in Africa are too big.The environment is too far gone.It’s the mind’s way of keeping a safe distance and believing that nothing can be done.
The “how to” ingredients in building or being a part of the Generosity Network are basically three things:
1.)Understanding our own resources, values, motivations, capacities and how to put those into practice.
2.) Understanding that we exist in relationship to others – and that our capacity to realize ourselves and our potential is inextricably linked to others’ capacity to realize theirs.
3.) Learning through action. Too often we get caught in the “snare of preparation” and wait too long to invite others to join with us or even just to get going. We learn in the act of doing, in the act of giving.We need to go and adapt as we learn and grow.
Generosity Networks are in constant motion, growing, deepening, adapting and increasing in effectiveness, alignment and impact.
PhilanthropyNYU: The Generosity Network, with the foreword by Deepak Chopra, asks the questions “What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? What are we going to do about it?”
Walker: We are all searching for a more meaningful life and the work of Deepak has helped us all realize it takes self-examination and opening ourselves up to others.That opening and listening process that Deepak talks about is a key tool in the creating of a Generosity Network…a group of people that come together to reduce suffering in the world.
McCrea: Yes, and in that regard, I would say the meaning of life is less a proposition than a practice.Not so much an esoteric concept of truth, as a way of living with a certain openness, depth, abundance and intensity, which we share and develop in relationship with others.This is the beauty of the kind of partnerships we are encouraging people to build in their own “Generosity Networks”:a place where you create the space for others to flourish and, at the same time, they are creating that same space for you.
PhilanthropyNYU: As Jennifer’s friend Katya Andresen says, “It’s impossible to talk about generosity without being vulnerable, impossible to be truly generous without opening yourself up.” How can we obtain greater openness and mindfulness in our daily interactions with people?
Walker: Being a role model for others is important.If in your dealings with them you are open, listen well, [and] have a managed ego they are much more likely to model that for you.I have found that sitting with people and talking about some of the big questions, “what is happiness and should we work to be happy”, “how can we end poverty”, “how can we help great teachers stay in their jobs?” are wonderful ways to allow people to experience open, connective discussion.
We have a tool called, Jeffersonian Dinners, that provides a model for those opening discussions.We have held hundreds and hundreds of these “whole table conversations” around the world and while the topics and people vary the openings and connections from them always occur.
McCrea: The Generosity Network is about generosity flowing into an actual meeting with others.I know their stories and they know mine.Our collective story is in process.We are all learning and growing.We are partners.We can only get to that place by dropping our masks, by being present and vulnerable.By being real.It requires letting go, which is easy to say, but sometimes much harder to do.
PhilanthropyNYU: Discuss the importance of collaboration.
Walker: A jazz quintet can’t be great with just great musicians, those musicians must be able to listen to each other, have managed egos allowing their fellow players to excel, open themselves to innovating/playing and they all must listen to the audience and find ways to bring the listeners into the flowing moment.The work to collaborate on the big issues of the day is just like that jazz band…our book describes how to build those co-creative collaborations and keep them focused on common objectives.
McCrea: I agree!A jazz group is a great metaphor here. A jazz band is free to improvise and self-express, but only with a receptive sensitivity to the self-expressive performances of the other members of the group and of the audience’s participation based on their emotions and ever-greater openness as they move into the flow. As each player grows more musically eloquent, the others draw inspiration from this and are spurred to greater and greater heights.There is achievement in the music itself, but not self-aggrandizing success.
PhilanthropyNYU: How has technology changed the way philanthropy functions?
Walker: Technology is continually changing how we connect and communicate with our partners in philanthropic causes.We communicate more quickly, people are more informed and we can measure better how effective our efforts are.We also know more about potential donors/partners than ever before.Because of the flow of data we have to be careful not to lose the human touch.Don’t over research…listen…connect.Don’t over evaluate…also be open to the stories.Don’t over inform with reports/power points… send information that is important…keep it simple.Use technology to help connect people to people.We are finding that peer networks are a key to scaling impact…keep building the supportive Generosity Networks of people who each bring something unique to the table and can uniquely add to the wonderful stew of philanthropic partnership we are brewing.
McCrea:Like money, technology is not capable of doing anything on its own. Money and technology are just tools to get the work done, but are not the work itself.
PhilanthropyNYU: How do you evaluate the success or failure of your philanthropic efforts?
Walker: Did we have an impact?Did I connect with others and generate even more givers, partners and did the ripples of our effort continue to roll out into the world creating more collaborative, cause focused partners?
I also look at the numbers…for Malaria I look at the significant decline in deaths over the last four years.For efforts around college preparation in schools I look at increased high school graduation rates.For each of the efforts I look at the return on investment and whether the model developed was scaling for greater and greater impact.I look at common measurement tools such as www.alma2015.org, which measures our progress in Malaria on a country-by-country basis.I look at systems such as the Strive Network, which develops common measures of success on city levels here in the U.S.
I also look at how I feel…do I feel joyful as I am involved in my work…am I meeting new people who are fun to work with … am I deepening the relationships I have with others through our joint efforts?If I feel my life is more meaningful because of my work I certainly will keep it up!
McCrea: Love Jeff’s answer.I would also evaluate success based on an understanding of what each member of the Generosity Network’s unique resources are and how those are being put into action to create change.Plus, are outcomes clear and measurable? Are they specific enough to know if progress is being made? Is accountability being practiced and is strategy being adapted based on experience and results?This is much less about specific commitments than specific outcomes, something that gets missed in a lot of fundraising strategies.
PhilanthropyNYU: Are we beginning to see fundraising and philanthropy taking root abroad?
Walker: Yes…in many countries and many locations.We have seen it in India/Nigeria/South Africa and many other places.Donors are asking about best practices.At Harvard Business School we are seeing people from around the world asking the same questions about how to be impactful in their philanthropy…from the Tatas and Piramals in India to great entrepreneurs in Brazil/Mexico (Carlos Slim) and in Africa.
PhilanthropyNYU: At the present time, most countries look to the U.S. for support. Is this beginning to change? Is there an effort being made overseas for less U.S. support?
Walker: There is much more local ownership of the efforts than before.Local countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, India are spending their own money, getting their own local business people to partner with larger aid efforts to accomplish their goals.We are sharing ideas more easily around the globe…there is less dependence on governments and more ownership by all the stakeholders that have interests…foundations, multi-laterals, global and local companies, non-profits, individuals.
McCrea:Cultural differences become less relevant when conversations are grounded in these deeper human questions and values.I am being asked to work with more and more international philanthropists and nonprofit leaders.While there may be some superficial cultural nuances to acknowledge, my message is consistent across cultures:get money out of the center of the relationship, build your vision based on shared values and a clear strategy for change, create partnership opportunities for everyone in the Network.