Some people say I’ve got a few good ideas… but the truth is I’ve got a Brain Trust!


With the fab Shanon Doolittle

As a fundraiser, I’m always looking for better ways to engage my donors… or at least to better juggle responsibilities for advocacy, fundraising, team building and any other hats I am wearing.

When I want to bounce some ideas around, whether about fundraising,  what is happening in the philanthropy space or what’s I should consider in my career development, I call on my Brain Trust.

The great thing is that there are lots of terrific fundraising information out there for the taking: sites like SOFII, from leaders from the field (such as The Agitator, Fired-Up Fundraising, or check out my blogroll).  Twitter is full of well-curated info – whether you’re watching hashtags (e.g., #fundraising or #nonprofit) or participating in forums like #FundChat. Grab the feed, follow the convo, swap experiences.

But even better, I meet with my Brain Trust members. I love getting together with Shanon, usually over lunch or happy hour. Our meetings are part think tank, part coaching session, part comedy show, we give and take ideas and the energy swirls.

One of the terrific things about social media is that the world becomes smaller; it is easy to reach out to colleagues you respect and admire who live time zones away. The first person who reached out to me from Twitter was Desiree Adaway.

at AFP Congress

With John Lepp in Toronto

Thanks to Desiree, I’m not shy suggesting a chat with people who are excellent curators, by phone, Skype or Google+ Hangout. John Lepp is a member of my Brain Trust who I really enjoy meeting (Vancouver-Toronto) to discuss the meta issues in our sector. And since John also blogs as @DrunkChef, our topics may range to food and wine as well. John is very creative, thoughtful and a huge proponent of #donorlove. He’s a fab connector with professionals all around the globe and we finally met IRL in Toronto late last year. He and his colleagues at Agents of Good are dropping knowledge on how to talk about the impact your donors are making… and thanking, appreciating and engaging.

Other members of the Brain Trust?

Ian-Tina-BAL small

Ian Adair, Tina Snider and me

Tina Snider caught my attention with her generosity and knowledge. We had talked several times over Skype so when she said she was coming to Seattle for a conference last October, I put out a call for a tweetup. Ian Adair drove up and the three of us had dinner. Perhaps the smallest and most delicious tweetup I’ve attended! Ian has been a smart and funny member of the Brain Trust, and I’m so glad he moved to the Pacific Northwest!

I could go on – there are so many experienced, helpful, thought-provoking colleagues. I’ve not yet met Ephraim Gopin from Israel yet, but we have had many hangouts and long DM conversations. And Amy Sept and I have just started a “book club” via Skype. We see each other at #smNPchat and on Twitter and finally I got to meet her in Toronto, running into her at the AFP Bookstore. She is much stronger around nonprofit communications so I’m learning a lot from her (our current book is The Nonprofit Marketing Guide by Kivi Leroux Miller).

How are you growing your Brain Trust? I hope that you have already found some people – near or far – with whom you want to connect. Whether you are a solo fundraiser in a small shop or on a large team of specialists, a Brain Trust can help you become a better fundraiser and create more philanthropy.

Just add networking!

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