The Books On The Shelf: What Big Picture Donors Expect
It was a long-sought-after meeting with one of Houston's movers and shakers. An attorney esteemed in national and international spheres. Known for his big picture perspective. A concept thinker. A connector of ideas. An advocate who demanded the consequences. So the nonprofit leader came prepared to make every minute count. She was seeking his support for a specific project benefiting young people struggling with learning differences and other life-long challenges.
Like most nonprofit leaders, Yvonne Streit was articulate, persuasive and zealous to the core. Like most, she was prepared to present her apologetic. Especially at this meeting. Ready to make her case. Armed with startling stories and statistics to share. All related to her specific cause. All aimed at grabbing his attention from the get-go.
But minutes into the meeting, she perceived the mover and shaker was distracted. Or was he disinterested in her cause? Then the phone rang, and he paused to take the incoming call. Giving Yvonne just enough time to scan the books lined up on the shelf behind his desk.
Book titles, one after another, showed he was driven by a broader issue plaguing society. A complex and convoluted dilemma fraught with insurmountable odds. Warranting his attention, his genius and his generosity to help solve. Confronting this issue and successfully deciphering this dilemma could result in a quantum leap benefiting millions. This was his big picture perspective. And all of this was seemingly unrelated to her advocacy on behalf of young people struggling with learning differences.
Or was it?
He finished the phone conversation and hung up the phone. "Those books on your book shelf. I notice you have a special interest in juvenile delinquency," she observed. And for the next minute or two she continued. Underscoring the relevancy of learning differences to his big picture perspective. Connecting her dots to the books on the shelf. To the issue and dilemma of juvenile delinquency.
Not every young person with a learning difference becomes a juvenile delinquent;
But perhaps most juvenile delinquents have a learning difference;
What would happen if we could intervene?
What if we taught them to learn in a way they learn best?
Before they become a delinquent?
There! She had his attention. He was hooked.
But Yvonne was hooked as well.
When a nonprofit leader conceptualizes and connects to a donor's big picture, it may eventually result in that long-sought-after transformational gift. Then the onus will be on your nonprofit to actually help solve those broader issues plaguing society. Those dilemmas fraught with insurmountable odds. The ones demanding the attention, genius and generosity of big picture donors.
With the support of generous donors, including many with big picture perspectives, Yvonne went on to establish exceptional programs benefiting thousands struggling with learning differences and other life-long challenges. Teaching each one in the way they learned best. Equipping each one to realize their fullest potential so they could make their own unique contributions to the world. And saving some who, without this critical intervention, might have become juvenile delinquents.
For good reason, transformational philanthropy conducted by big picture donors comes with contingencies. Clear terms that spell out their expectations of consequential results. Your nonprofit's relevancy to the books on their shelves now becomes a moral imperative. To join them in staring down the plague. Unravelling the riddle. Accelerating the greater good. Actualizing a quantum benefit for all.
So, as Yvonne might say, make sure you read the titles of the books on the shelf. Very carefully.
Visit briarwoodschool.org, tuttleschool.org and brookwoodcommunity.org to learn about the remarkable programs founded by Yvonne Streit. Her book, Everybody's Got A Seed To Sow, is available at brookwoodstore.com.
Follow @JoeMazzu3 on Twitter and Instagram. Visit intentionalconsulting.com and learn more about his consulting business serving nonprofits.