Nathan C. Chappell

Senior Nonprofit Executive

Introducting Philanthropy 2.0

We are living in the 2nd philanthropic age.  An exciting era that demands disciplined leadership, sophisticated fundraising strategies and quantifiable outcomes.  Not since Carnegie and Rockefeller has philanthropy been so in-vogue. But unlike 1913, we live in a world of efficiency, effectiveness... a world where deliberant strategies and quantifiable outcomes are no longer a luxury. A world where the 'art' of fundraising must be balanced with the ‘science’ of fundraising management. This blog and a majority of my career is devoted to the "science" of fundraising management and how fundraising managers must change the way they think, act and operate to succeed in this new heightened world of philanthropy.

There are a multitude of books, blogs, conferences, etc. that discuss the 'art ' of fundraising – the delicate balance of intuition, insight, persistence and patience that all great fundraisers possess. I’ve never been one to recreate the wheel and for this reason I am committing this blog to the opposite side of the fundraising spectrum.

While the outcome of our profession rests in the day-to-day ‘artful’ work of talented fundraisers, I have chosen to use this platform to discuss and share thoughts and ideas on what great fundraising managers must master to build and grow dynamic and successful fundraising teams.  I’ve worked in, observed and studied the ‘science’ of fundraising for many years.  It’s an area that intrigues me a great deal and an area that also keeps me up at night.  It’s quite simple… more philanthropy, more fundraisers, more scrutiny.  I believe that managing fundraising teams in the second philanthropic age comes at a great cost, and with that a great responsibility to foster our profession with the same professionalism, expertise and ‘science’ equal-to or greater than our for-profit brothers and sisters.

I know the topic of fundraising management is for a niche crowd, but an influential crowd nonetheless.  A crowd that will either advance our profession by infusing business ‘science’ in what we do or a crowd that will disparage our industry by operating on wisps and whims.  It goes without saying that fundraising managers have an extra difficult job.  They must foster the altruistic nature of their workforce by providing opportunities to promote the ‘art’, to build community and to promote the holistic nature of our work while also maintaining laser focus and deliberate consciousness of the ‘science’ that distinguishes mediocre teams from teams that consistently produce long-term results.

Successful fundraising managers in the second philanthropic era must understand the perceived reliance on fairy dust and unicorn money by the outside world.  They must recognize their personal responsibility in helping to demystify those stereotypes by employing metrics, by benchmarking, by forecasting and by developing brilliant strategic plans and executing on them with precision.  They must maintain a keen focus on the measurable, the traceable and the quantifiable activities that are required for long-term success.  It's high time for some serious discussion dedicated to the business, the management and the real ‘science’ of fundraising management.  We are a privileged few to work in a space that solves problems, changes lives and exists for the benefit of mankind.  It’s a privilege that deserves our very best work, not our best guess. Come along with me on this journey and let’s do good for a profession that does good for the world.  I’m up for the challenge and I hope others are too.

- Philos Anthropos


Nathan Chappell