Ep 53: Asking for Money Isn’t Sexy… But Philanthropy Is (with Claire Axelrad)

nonprofits are messyNeuroscientists confirm that when somebody gives a donation, it lights up the same part of the brain as having sex or eating chocolate. So why does fundraising give so many adults the creeps?

Perhaps that is because the positive emotions associated with philanthropy, which comes from ancient Greek meaning “love of humankind”, are not the same as the negative ones that asking for money elicits. But isn’t that just semantics?

In this episode, I speak with Claire Axelrad, a fundraising expert, executive coach, and frontline leader helping raise millions of dollars for such organizations as San Francisco Food Bank, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She also operates Clairification as her own mini online fundraising “school.”

Claire discusses how to create an environment in your company where you aren’t convincing people to raise funds, but where everyone, at any level, is comfortable with the fact that all roles in a nonprofit involve philanthropy. It’s all about building a “culture of philanthropy.”

About Claire Axelrad

After working briefly as an attorney, and then in legal publishing, she started a 30-year career as a frontline leader helping raise millions of dollars for various organizations. In 2011 she founded a fundraising training and coaching business to serve as a resource on philanthropy for organizations, a thought partner to executive directors and boards. Clairification is her online fundraising “school.”

Claire teaches a CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers, and contributes regularly to online publishers NonprofitPro, Guidestar and Maximize Social Business. She is a featured expert for Bloomerang, Network for Good and TopNonprofits/ThirdSectorToday, among others. Her blog was named “Top Fundraising Blog” by Fundraising Success. She is a member of the California State Bar, alumna of The Fundraising School, Conrad Teitell Intensive Planned Giving Program and Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Executive Leadership Institute, and a graduate with honors from Princeton University. She currently resides in San Francisco, California.

In this episode

  • The components of philanthropy and who in the organization promotes it
  • Why marketing and fundraising staff can’t be both siloed and effective
  • Why some board (and even staff) can become embarrassed to fundraise
  • How field work can connect people to their missions and enact passion
  • The 7 attributes of a great fundraiser
  • How to align philanthropy across the entire organization in a way that is integrated and aligned with mission and values
  • Building strong donor relationships
  • Clarifying board and staff roles in a culture of philanthropy

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