Lisa Greer is a proud philanthropist, and the author of Philanthropy Revolution, a book meant to describe how outdated the charitable sector has become, and why it has such a high risk of collapsing.

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Behind the scenes with a high net wealth donor about how to click with donors for long lasting support

“Donors are not cookie cutters, they are human, and just like fundraisers, they are not all the same.” Click To Tweet

Fundraising is a TOUGH job. What’s even harder is that there is more and more pressure to raise the funds from donors that ultimately operate critically important societal needs and services. In some cases, fundraising can feel transactional, urgent and stressful. This doesn’t feel good for anyone. Let’s examine the nature of our relationships and how we communicate with more grace, generosity and purpose. I am quite excited to share this incredible episode from the perspective of a “major gifts donor” with you. 

As you know, the Creating Community for Good podcast was born as a platform to open up and have authentic and real conversations with everyone involved in the world of philanthropy. I want to know about fundraisers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and share their perspectives to keep adding value to our community. In this episode, I bring in Lisa Greer, a philanthropy powerhouse, to talk about a very unique perspective in the philanthropy game —  the donor. I won’t lie, this conversation was enlightening, as Lisa shared not only her own experience as a donor, but reframed the entire way fundraisers approach and establish conversations with potential donors, so be ready to take notes!

Lisa Greer is a proud philanthropist, inspiring entrepreneur, convener, and the author of Philanthropy Revolution, a book meant to describe how outdated the charitable sector has become, and why it has such a high risk of collapsing. Over the last decade, the Greer home in Beverly Hills has been home to nearly 200 charitable salons and events connecting nonprofits with donors and the community. In 2020, Lisa was appointed by the Speaker of the California State Assembly, Anthony Rendon,  as a commissioner of the California State Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. In addition, Lisa sits on the board of the New Israel Fund and serves on the Executive  Committee of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors.
Earlier in her career, Lisa was a studio executive at NBC and Universal Studios, and she founded and led several companies, including a management consulting and strategic advisory firm specializing in digital media and entertainment businesses. Growing up, Lisa’s family was not what you would consider “wealthy”, so when she started to have some extra bucks, organizations were eager (even desperate) to reach out to her. Frustrated to her core, Lisa found the opportunity to have a deep look at the system and create what could be considered a modern handbook for fundraisers, nonprofits and donors to build trusting partnerships.

The term “philanthropy” has built a bad reputation, as it carries a negative connotation for the general public. The field has undeniably functioned as a way for certain big donors to get away with their problematic behaviors, that is why it is so important for fundraisers to shut down anything that does not align with their organizations’ values, and to keep nurturing the ecosystem with people that have a true passion for change.

When we think about philanthropy, there’s a good chance we’re thinking about money first, which is definitely not what we want. Philanthropy is about collaboration, community, change, and ultimately, the love for humankind. So, I invite all the fundraisers and nonprofits to take a moment to evaluate their practices with donors when it comes time for another solicitation.
In our field, it is not about how we fundraise, but about how we communicate and relate with others. Yes, the money is important, but the long term relationships and partnerships we can build with others are what truly contributes to the purpose of philanthropy. It is time to reframe the way we address fundraising, it is time to update the way we do philanthropy, and it is time for all of us to collaborate and revolutionize the field that we love so deeply, together.

Are you looking at the donor as just another piggy bank, or as an actual human being? Are you taking the time to do the research and connect with them even beyond their nice outfit? When donors speak up, are you actively listening?

Key Takeaways: 

  • (04:00) – A major prejudice: is the world of philanthropy really corrupt?
  • (11:55) – Donors have a voice: Lisa’s philanthropy journey and the motivation behind her Philanthropy Revolution book.
  • (18:13) – Why both donors and fundraisers must set expectations around solicitations from the beginning of the conversation.
  • (21:59) – The Philanthropy Revolution: How reframing the philosophy and practices inside philanthropy could create a functioning and fruitful community. 
  • (30:09) – How to move from having unpleasant experiences with donors to building authentic, high-value relationships with them. 
  • (33:27) – Why choosing to collaborate will always be the right call.
  • (37:22) – How to restructure the power dynamics between fundraisers and donors to aim for authenticity and real connections.

Connect with Lisa

Lisa Greer

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Episode Resources

Philanthropy Revolution by Lisa Greer

Subscribe to Philanthropy 451

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