Moving Your Ideas Forward

There seem to be unlimited ways to present the concept of ‘negotiation’ or ‘getting to yes’. Are there similar steps we can take when we want to bring an idea forward for department, our project, or ourselves?  The following are concepts that could be helpful as you propose an idea or try to negotiate a new policy or use of a different process at work.  (Note:  These suggestions could also be applied in personal relationships!) 

1.  Separate the people from the problem. This is the most important step – to truly set aside any emotional connection related to people and focus on the issues or item, which needs to be addressed. Focus on discussing each other’s perceptions of the issue, repeatedly stating, “what I see” or “what I hear you saying is…” as a way of helping to bring both parties into the practice of objectivity.  

2.  Focus on the interests and not the position. By understanding the goals, desires, and possible fears of the other person, one can discuss what is in it for them. A good listener will hear what is being said and respond accordingly.  A good negotiator will ask questions to seek deeper understanding.  If you act like you are ‘in their shoes’, it will be easier to discern what their needs are and what they may not be saying. Be open to letting go of your position on the issue so that you can hear what is truly being said from the other person’s point of view. 

3.  Invent options for mutual gain. Presenting a scenario or proposal where both parties can say yes requires both creativity and discipline. By brainstorming, you can identify the possible scenarios acceptable to both parties. Remember to diagnose and clearly define the problem first so you can be specific about the actions to address it.  The more details that are defined about the issue or problem, the easier it will be to create the ideal solution(s). 

4.  Insist on using objective criteria. For true success in a negotiation, there needs to be a measurable outcome- what will happen, by when, and who will do what.  Without such an outcome, the conversation is just talk and not a negotiation of a new idea or practice.  If one focuses on these outcome objectives, then a fair agreement can be reached.  

This article was adapted from the book; Getting to Yes - Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. 

ProFormU and Elaine Rosenblum is another resource for Collaborative Negotiating skills and tools.  

Practices for Advancing a Culture of Philanthropy

1. At each meeting, one leadership member spends up to four minutes sharing their personal story of connection to the work.  The more details of the story and the stronger the person’s connection to women’s rights/ issues of focus, the better.  Feel free to tie into your story the words Advocate, Educate, “Genderosity” or other relevant brand themes.  

2. Consider a meeting dedicated to shaping an advocacy and/or programmatic goal.  The focus is on a defined action (i.e. address FMLA in the county, join a coalition on fair pay, research safety issues and their solutions for women and their families, etc) and developing a ‘case’ for support.  Attach a financial goal to the case statement that includes staff support to administer project and support for the Executive Director.  

3. In each quarter, find at least three forums / outlets (i.e, a newsletter, event, one-on-one appeal to a donor) to start talking about and ‘test’ your case for support/story about a larger vision for the work.  

4. Prepare lists and ideas for introductions to at least 50 potential new TrusteesSpend one third of each meeting discussing five of these names and possible action items that will engage them to ask for their advice in shaping ‘the case’.  

5. Prepare lists of new audiences to solicit for funding and prioritize these based on conversations at the leadership level and in one-on-one meetings with fellow trustees.  Such new audiences to pursue   might include men, federation allocation, project-based giving, people to sponsor young women to be trustees, donations from philanthropic foundations that focus on women and / or identified issue areas.   For each funding source area, set a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  

6. Utilize time with trustees or prospective donors to ask: What is the most compelling issue for you? What is your legacy?  What impact do you want your giving to have?  Start compiling these answers for use with capacity asks and collateral materials.  

7. Start every conversation with an invitation to be a “partner of our work for life” and explain the need for long term support to affect deep systemic change.  Invite people to share their legacy and consider being a ‘member of a team’ that is serving their legacy and that of other like-minded people.  From the invitation for a legacy gift, encourage a multi-year ask as a first step towards a commitment.  

Powering Up for Women's Philanthropy

The Women Moving Millions Summit theme was “The story of power” and by the end I was fired up and also overwhelmed with the many ideas, facts and speakers all encouraging us to ‘power up!’ I was doing my yoga power pose, staying connected to my power posse at the Summit and beyond via social media, and finding new ways to get comfortable ‘promoting myself and my power’--something that seems to be a struggle for many women and is actually tied to our brain wiring! A fabulous new male member of WMM asked me at dinner one night, what is important about me? For the life of me, I was so fixated on what was important to me (advancing women and girls leadership) that I struggled to answer this question. I know for others and myself in attendance, we are truly #allinforher, the tagline for the new philanthropic tool launched by the host organization Women Moving Millions (WMM). Going ‘all in for her’ encompasses four key areas of one’s philanthropy: give big, give boldly, give with a gender lens, and work collaboratively. When I do my own assessment, here is what I know:

1. Giving boldly. This area needs work for me as I need to come out more about the organizations and leaders I invest in. I also have room to tell more people about my ability to give boldly via the deliberate purchase of a large life insurance policy I made in my healthy 30’s.

2. Giving with a gender lens. This is easy to do. As a lesbian feminist, this is just in my DNA. As someone who has studied successful nonprofits, I will make a conscious effort to publicly share the women leaders and why I invest in them.

3. Working collaboratively. This is a fabulous concept that I witness and promote in my roles as a Board member for Tides and Women Win. I find that in my giving as an individual, I haven’t yet sought out peers who might join me in my ‘invest in the women leader and her NGO’ model.

4. Give ‘big’. I give more than 15-20% of my gross income which is not a million dollars but usually greater than $20,000/year. Perhaps, soon we will have a Women Moving Percentages group. In traditional philanthropy, the giving formula that is typical is 1-3% of income as most large gifts come from assets. My three properties will be a wonderful gift upon my passing – right now the rental income I get allows me to be a ‘big’ giver now.

As the community was invited to step up and go #allinforher, myriad of questions floated around in my head and heart. These questions ranged from the micro to the macro of the women’s philanthropic arena: ‘what is so important about this movement to me? how do I adjust my own inner power relationship for success in the movement? what is the movement’s relevancy to new partners? what does a bold funding partnership look like and what makes it sustainable over time? and who else is a likely or unlikely partner to invest in girls and women?’

All of these questions intersect somewhere with at least one of the topics below that were raised during different sessions by the talented array of speakers. Most of these are not new messages or themes in the philanthropic sector, however, they were either supported by scientific data or delivered in a frame that allowed people to find new ways to easily enter the conversation. See the topic below and the link to the various speeches/presentations that support or go deeper on the topic. I invite you to go #allinforher and examine your own giving experience and visit to learn more.

1. Powering Ourselves –use tools of meditation (scientifically proven – David Lynch Foundation), laughter (Theatre women)

2. The Youth Voice – relevant now, impact, personal (girl panel)

3. Meet our Allies where they are at – (Michael Kimmel)

4. Be Intentional and Purposeful – take the lead lessons and ideas (Gloria Feldt)

5. Gender Intelligence – brain data, impact on leadership models (Barbara Annsis)

6. Socialization of Genders – gender norms and philanthropy, feminism for all people (Riki Wilchins)

7. Money is Love – (Lynne Twist)

7 Practices to Focus on Individual Giving

A number of clients and colleagues understand the value of diversifying their revenue models. Most of these organizations have been primarily dependent on institutional giving models (i.e., recipients of grants) and are starting to explore what success looks like in the individual giving arena. Results in this arena take time, persistence and insistence on key practices. Here are my top seven ideas for building sustainable and engaging partnerships with individual donors. Good luck and let me know which ones are working for you! 

1. Stick to a relationship building rhythm. People give because they are asked to help. Before inviting someone to invest in your work, one needs to build a relationship. Telling the story in person over and over in a myriad of ways (one-on-one, small lunches, cocktail parties, etc.) builds rapport and comfort that people trust and want to be part of. Takeaway – Do you tape or rehearse your ‘story’ and adjust it to resonate with different audiences? 

2. Explore prospecting opportunities. All programs have ‘alumni’ who have benefited from the service provided by the organization, some of whom may have given and some who have never been asked. As well, there is typically a parent (if higher education based), friend or other person connected to the beneficiary who saw the transformation created by your program. Takeaway - How often can you produce lists and share them with the leadership to determine who hasn’t yet been engaged or who they might like to know more about?

3. Set goals for meetings and conversations. What gets measured gets attended to, what gets attended to gets done. Conversations are always opportunities for the organization to learn about the donor or the prospect’s values and ideals. Takeaway – How much time do you allocate for downloading your meetings so they are put into a database record and/or utilized to determine how best to engage someone in the mission and work? 

4. Create a communications calendar to engage with key people. Every organization has an ‘inner circle’ of long time donors (3-5 years or more of giving), program alumni, current or former board members, celebrities, planned gift donors, long term serving staff, major donors (at an amount that is relative to the organization). For every trip, event or mailing, examine if you want to visit or pull this group list for a mailing and personalize in some manner. Takeaway – Have you set up an inner circle query on your database and how do you uniquely steward this group?

5. Formalize a ‘posse’ or advisory council. With organizations that do not have a traditional fundraising Board or need to expand the work of their Board, harnessing the ideas and connections of an advisory board or other group of connected people to expand the reach of the work. Takeaway – Is there a group of 5-7 people who you reach out to on a quarterly basis to get their ideas on strategies, opportunities and events and people to engage with?

6. Encourage leadership to ask for help and advice. Often, long serving or highly competent CEO/ED’s feel they have arrived or see asking for help as a weakness. To be successful, a good organization will have leadership that has at least 5-6 ways to invite a donor to offer their time, talent or treasure. Remember the mantra, “Ask for money and you get advice; ask for advice and you get money.” Takeaway – How many different ways can you invite input, ideas, connections, and resources?

7. Conduct ongoing database analysis and research. The database is the biggest asset of most organizations and the least invested in. There are tools (donor research database overlays) that can be utilized to assess the giving potential of donors. Takeaway - Is there a full-time position or allocation of at least 20-30 hours per/week of a staff member’s time who is continually doing queries, pulling lists and conducting analysis of records and the content in the records (not data entry)?

Social Change Philanthropy

What is at the core of your giving?  What factors motivate your decision making?  What is it that you would need to be more strategic in your philanthropy?  These are questions that help build a foundation for conversations around personal giving.  Before one can truly understand the impact or focus of any gift, it is helpful to distinguish between the types of organizations the gift supports.  There is a significant difference in the characteristics of “Charity” versus “Social Change” Philanthropy and understanding these differences may make a difference in deciding the type of organization your gift supports:   

Charity Philanthropy                                              Social Change Philanthropy
Short-term fixes                                                          Long-term solutions
Social services                                                              Social change
Reactive                                                                            Proactive
Individual responses                                                 Collective, organized responses
Dependent communities                                        Empowered, independent communities

This distinction is important as it helps people understand and ‘name’ the focus of their giving and whether they wish to address systemic or structural issues of discrimination, access, or equity through changing society or more immediately help those that are the victims of such issues.   No matter what type of work a donor chooses to support, there should be an assessment of the effectiveness of the organization, always seeking to support the human talent and capacity of organizations that make the bold changes happen. 

Women’s funds have been at the forefront of social change philanthropy for decades.  The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) is the largest women’s philanthropic collaborative network in the world and lifts up the work of more than 150 women’s funds.   WFN has been a global champion for the investment in women led solutions to the most critical issues; economic security, access to education and health care, and freedom from violence. Successful programs of WFN focus on leadership capacity, outcome measurement, and philanthropic engagement with the most public of these efforts being the recent Women Moving Millions campaign.  A recent study by the Foundation Center demonstrated that women’s funds have been delivering impact through effective coalition building and a bottom up / top down strategy.  The report also shared the work of women’s funds as leaders in the democratization of philanthropy and as social innovators working across sectors.. 

Now we are on the brink of a sea change as philanthropists begin to focus on investing in women as a solution to resolving or healing key issues in communities and society. Innovative and determined women’s fundshave led such smart investing for the past 30 years and are thrilled to have more folks joining the movement.  We welcome the social change investment to be directed towards women’s funds – a proven model that works.  To learn more about where a women’s fund may be near to your philanthropic focus, please visit the Women's Funding Network.  

Seven Areas an Executive Director or CEO can Focus on for Success

Lately I have been getting calls from people who are starting in a new leadership position as CEO or Executive Director of a social sector organization.  Typically these organizations are called “nonprofits”, but l am purposely reframing this label to “social sector organizations” to better reflect the true bottom line work of social change and community betterment with our communities and people’s lives changing as the ‘profit’.  Many people are coming into this sector from the ‘for profit’ arena and are unsure about what they should focus on to be successful in fundraising.  Here are the tips I have been offering that may be of help for all social sector leaders – new and long serving.  As I put these thoughts together, I realized that these suggestions are relevant for both for profit and social sectors – only the language changes from funds/donors to sales/customers!

  1. Embrace relationship building. This is the crux of good fundraising – getting out of the office and being with people. Listening and asking for input on why they value the work of the organization.
  2. Assess your own prosperity work. I strongly believe that people who are out engaging with people to give to a charitable endeavor are more successful when they have addressed their own relationship with money.  Be sure to examine your own class background and your own beliefs about legacy and where and how you give so you can have an honest, transparent conversation with people with all types of resources.
  3. Create a top 100 list.  The database is the organization’s biggest asset.  Spend time reviewing lists and asking questions about how queries are done and what groupings have been identified in order to cull the top people so you will be able to focus your stewardship and relationship building efforts. 
  4. Answer the questions, “Why you?” and “Why now?”  Your story, especially for new leaders, is critical for donors to hear.  Why did you take the position, what are your ideas for honoring the current work and/or transitioning the organization into its 2.0 or 3.0 version.  Being able to articulate what the urgency of the organization’s work and what will be different with  gifts that range from X to Y is critical.
  5. Get testimonials from funders. Invite institutional funders and donors to write a note of support or testimonial to build credibility as a new leader and to build potential support.  Use these with proposals, on the web site or on case statements to demonstrate the breadth of the organization’s support and the reason others associate with the organization.  
  6. Build your ‘posse’. Find people who you respect, who you can be honest and transparent with and with whom you can confide for personal support and reactions to your ideas. 
  7. Be patient. Know that building your dream team takes time.  Whether it is your Board or your senior management team, it will take time to get the right people and have them click together.    

Movement Building- What Can We Learn from Sports?

Few can deny the success of the women’s sports movement. Since the passage of Title IX in1972, the growth of girls’ and women’s participation in sports has been simply phenomenal. Within this movement are valuable lessons for those of us still working on issues such as reproductive justice, pay equity, legislative leadership, etc. For my wise colleagues working in these areas and others, I encourage you to consider the following metaphors and practices for success.

1. Utilize the entire playbook. Every movement needs a balance of planning and action, passion and reflection, creativity and hard work. Early in the game, women’s sports leaders created the Coalition for Girls and Women in Education with representatives from five or six national organizations to be the think tank and pulse reading organ responsible for developing and implementing strategies and responses. These organizations represented different skill sets. The National Women’s Law Center delivered “legal eagles”; the American Association for University Women delivered academic research; the Women’s Sports Foundation delivered celebrity athletes and Hollywood spokespersons, etc. There is no rule that states you utilize these skills in a linear fashion. Rather, to be game ready and successful, we have to practice and access all of these skills simultaneously with intense persistence and the division of labor makes this easier to do. If we are ready at every position, we are poised to seize every opportunity and able to adjust in the heat of the game to whatever ‘play’ or strategy is needed for victory.

2. Treat funders like teammates. A team is more than players in the field. A successful team is the sum total of the starting line “up, substitutes on the bench, coaches, owners and investors, all working together. The women’s sports movement kept investors informed every step of the way – celebrating victories and asking for more help to confront defeats and win the next round. When you are truly partnered for victory and you collectively have a goal of winning, people are working side by side and sharing their information, power and strengths selflessly. A great team communicates effortlessly and the leadership (coaches, managers, investors, owners) pat each other on the back to acknowledge great plays, creating places for each other to ‘shine’; honoring the individuality that each member brings to the team’s success and engaging with them to bring out their best selves. Being able to do this with all of the partners in the movement will build success faster. Rather than a ‘race’ to be the fastest and most successful organization, it is better to get optimal performance from multiple groups that result in the delivery of a team victory that is more fulfilling and happens sooner because of coordinated group effort.

3. Set goals and celebrate victories. Motivating people by instilling pride in the work and celebrating the small wins along the path is critical for momentum building and staying power. It is statistically impossible to win every game or make every basket. The women’s sports movement can best be described as persistent and consistent effort over time. The season is long (41 years long in the case of Title IX and women’s sports) and keeping everyone focused on the team goals as well as the individual goals will insure a place in the post season. Success is most often the product of individual best efforts coupled with critical team wins over the long term. Keeping every player motivated to consistently put forth their best efforts over the long term is the heart of successful teams.                                                                                                           

4. Headlines are important. Media coverage and spokespeople are key parts of building the brand and energy behind and inside a team. But equally important is the use of compelling, research supported facts. Women’s sports leaders were magnificent in their collection and dissemination of the facts that girls who played sports had better grades, were more likely to graduate from high school and matriculate in college, were at lower risk for breast cancer and other diseases affecting women, were more confident and resilient, etc. The message is that the headlines must be more than ‘the good work’ of organizations; they must be about the impact of such work and what happens to those who benefit from the team’s efforts rather than just the social justice problem being addressed. It’s fine to take advantage of a crisis or story of someone adversely affected, but it must be accompanied by the hope and help offered by the nonprofit organization – how victims or lives of the previously disadvantaged have been changed for the better. The team should not be sidetracked or lose focus on its goals amidst the media hype and attention. Good work must continue in the shadows as well as the spotlight.

5. Trust your teammates. No one player can ever carry a team. Everyone has something to contribute. The more talented players you can involve, the greater the possibility that these players will make a positive impact. Take the time to find out what likely and unlikely teammates can bring to the movement. Play to their strengths and share with transparency the goals of the movement and the playbook of strategies.

How to Get Athlete-Level Confidence at Work

Every time I lead a retreat, questions come up about embodying leadership. “How do I keep feeling confident when no one uses my ideas?” or “What do I need to do to have my presence as a leader felt?” Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman’s book The Confidence Code brought science and depth to the conversation on confidence. And some of the lines they share, many athletes know first-hand: “We have control over our confidence,” they write. “We change our brains and rewire them to be more confident. Confidence is essentially a kind of energy that allows us to move forward wholeheartedly. By taking action, we create confidence.”  ...

10 Tips for Relationship Building

Whether you are running your own nonprofit, building a sports program or starting a new business, here are my suggested “Top Ten Methods for Success”. Please note that these are in no particular order although I personally value 1‐4 in people I work with! Success will come sooner when all are done well and consistently. 

  1. Grow and Engage with Your Contact List – ask your mentors and friends who they know that can help you with your product, plan, or passions. Keep in regular contact with key people and ask how you can help them. People are more apt to assist you later when you have offered aid for their projects/lives. Volunteer to be on committees or to help others. Send out meaningful updates and stories of your work on a quarterly basis. Identify key skills, supports and/or tangible donations you need and ask people who they know that could help you. Think now about who is on your ‘holiday card’ list.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  2. Ask Questions and Follow Through – in every communication, be mindful of how often you share your perspective versus asking what is happening in the supporter’s life and how they feel about what you are doing. Ask for money and get advice; ask for advice and get money. Asking for input and authentically inquiring about a person’s work, home or passions is key to building strong relationships. By listening, listening, and listening to what is said and not said, you can follow through with personalized and meaningful information. If you do this, people will ask you how they can help you. Then you can share with them the resources needed by your organization.                     

  3. Bring Forth a Strong Work Ethic – people invest in leaders who they see are ‘hungry’ and work for success. When they can see your persistence and authentic belief in what you are doing, followed up with personalized notes and/or customized partnership proposals, they are more apt to support you. Impeccable attention to detail with your work and sequential and coordinated engagement (meet with top contributors 2 times / year, e‐mail them monthly, call them quarterly, etc) with key supporters will deliver better results.                              

  4. Believe and Act in Partnership – if you are truly listening and engaged with someone, you will hear what their dreams and desires are. At the same time, they will hear yours. By asking for people to partner with you on your dreams, know that this will be easiest when you genuinely want to build theirs too. Know that this philosophy can be applied to co‐workers, investors, boosters, athletes you coach, etc.   

  5. Utilize Gifts / Sales to Secure More Funds– whenever a gift is secured or asked for, work with the supporter to ask how public they will let you be with their gift. Often their gift will allow you to seek a match or create a challenge for others, thereby doubling or tripling their investment. Always think in terms of a gift rate chart and share this with supporters (i.e. we need 10 gifts at $10,000 or $100,000 to do this project) even if you know the supporter can give you the entire amount. Ideally, you want them to give you the names of nine others who can help and the $100,000. Minimally, get permission to publicize the story of the gift with or without their name attached as people want to give to success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  6.  Build a Circle of Leaders and Experts – whether it is a nonprofit Board or Advisory Council to build your league, business or team, a trusted group of advisors from a variety of key fields (finance, legal, digital marketing, communications) will be critical for success. Be sure to give each person a specific request for help or assignment that the volunteer agrees is a way they want to engage. People want a way to use their talents and that also is considerate and efficient use of their time.                                                                                                                        

  7.  Focus Time on the Top 20% most nonprofits are funded with 80% of the money coming from 20% of the donors. Spending time and building trust and rapport with this top 20% should take 80% of your time. Their relationships, interests, businesses, and values will inevitably lead you to their peer group(s) over time.                                                                                                                                                                                             

  8. Build a List of Benefits for Exchange – prior to going into the marketplace for underwriters, compile a list of benefits that your business/nonprofit can offer in exchange for ‘sponsorship’. With a menu of opportunities for partnership, you can then customize a relationship that is meaningful. Never overlook the opportunity to provide something of value that ‘can’t be bought’ (i.e., an autograph item from a sports legend or behind the scenes experience with a leader or coach).                                                                                                                       

  9. Mimic Large Institution Practices to Build Brandanalyze the tools used by colleges and universities and model them where appropriate. Invite leadership (deans, coaches or top thought leaders) to speak at events or hosted parties (in campus settings or esteemed private homes) to engage with key audiences (alumnae lists or people profiled via technology sources on income or affinity) on a relevant topic. Know that all significantly funded organizations have people designated to doing research on prospects and donors and their ability to give and that in order to be mindful of their entire giving focus and life passions, this is absolutely essential.                                   

  10. Build Visibility via Technologyutilize new media to tell your story and make timely updates to your mission and team/product’s contributions to the community and society. Continually review your web site to insure relevant information is present. Think of your web site as your living room and you are inviting your investors to dinner. With this practice, you will have an impressive, elegant and impeccable first response by any web visitor. Master the art of storytelling on your web site and in web communications as an essential element in asking for involvement and gifts. 

Broader Thinking on Family Economic Security

After having the privilege of being part of several meetings with leaders in the field of economic security for families, I learned that this work has many viewpoints and challenges. This summary attempts to capture the breadth of opportunity for broadening the conversation of family economic security. 

Overall, the key components that encompass family economic security (FES) are identified as fulfillment of primary needs such as food and shelter, access to a health care system that serves both one’s self and family, ability to enter and navigate in a variety of markets (financial, employment, social capital) and opportunity for career advancement/education that is relevant to workforce success. 

Generally speaking, family economic security seems to have a qualitative texture for impacted individuals and practitioners working directly with them, and a more quantitative and numerically positioned flavor when policy people define it. Framing the conversation in poverty language versus economics language or referring to families versus systems also may bring forth differing perspectives. 

In a qualitative sense, FES success would be defined by a family staying together (children not placed in foster care), free from violence and addiction, and living with dignity and respect. True success would be a break in the generational transference of low‐income standing. Assessing success could also hinge on an individual’s having social capital and networks that offer varying choices and opportunities for work and learning opportunities. Finally, success could be seeing fewer disparities around income and education when looking across class, gender or race. 

Quantitatively, the metrics rely on index tools that have been developed to look at either what it takes to get and stay in the middle class on a continuum based on five economic factors, or measuring and benchmarking expenses based on a self sufficiency standard in their state (see Wider Opportunities for Women). These measures may or may not be universally acceptable as there seems to be a divide as to whether self sufficiency would be determined with or without public supports. Regardless of how it is measured, there is considerable demand for better government data to analyze. 

Sustained security is founded in the tools of early education and ‘talent development,’ literacy, relevant career training for ‘entry level’ workers, lifelong education around financial decisions and markets, and access to quality jobs that offer standards such as health care, paid sick leave, retirement, etc. Most people working in FES policy and/or programmatic delivery of any of these tools agree that we need to take a holistic approach (versus staying in silos), and that this alone will allow for a faster ‘movement’ towards the self‐sufficiency of low‐income families. 

Addressing the issues surrounding “asset‐based poverty” and debt is critical for FES success. Campaigns focused on predatory lending need to be offset with elevating the visibility of free opportunities for moving towards financial independence that are often provided by community based organizations. Providing practical learning experiences focused on financial decision‐making is happening in various Community Development Financial Institutions. Identifying, and elevating the role of entrepreneurs is also important as people often need ’to see it to be it.’

"Tuti the Tiger" on Money

Now more than ever we are thinking of resources in a new paradigm. Broadening the idea of our resources beyond finances is good practice as is reframing our relationship with currency. Here are some principles and practices that have worked for me in my personal life and as a professional fundraiser; 

Practice daily gratitude, forgiveness and mindful manifestation. Every night there is an opportunity for reflection on one’s day and thinking through the many people and things we can be grateful for, what we want to forgive ourselves for, and what we want to manifest more of in our world. By disciplining ourselves to this daily ritual of stating at least two items in each category, we will find ourselves framing a prosperous future. 

Give freely and with appreciation with a knowing that it will come back to you multiplied. This is a guiding principle of many teachers where the energy of money and the cycle of giving and receiving is continuous and powerful. Giving freely, one receives in bounty from another source. Trusting in this principle is the foundation of tithing. Saying to one’s self whenever making a gift “With gratitude and knowing that it will come back to me multiplied, I release this debt/give/donate…” As well, when writing checks and paying one’s ‘bills’, think of these as ‘gifts of thanks’ for having running water, communication, roads, place to live, warmth, etc. The framing of giving around gratitude and acknowledgement for the ‘source’ of what you have received allows for a broader opening for prosperity in one’s life. 

Be open to prosperity and stating affirmations about how you want to be ‘held’ in the world. If one spends time with Catherine Ponder’s books – The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity or Shakti Gawain on Creative Visualiztion or any of Sananya Roman and many others –the opportunity to absorb powerful readings and affirmations will arise. “I am a child of the Universe – all of my needs are met and sustained.” “I am open to prosperity in all forms.” “It is easy for me to generate wealth in my life.” Their philosophy about being open to the miracles of the world and having divine support for whatever your personal journey may be works if you practice it. If you speak, write, and state your spiritual, emotional, physical goals in a way that is connected to your spiritual source in the world and is true to what you really feel, money will come forth. 

Have discipline around knowing what your budget looks and feels like. Understanding what you need to manifest each month for your standard of living is important. After establishing your goals and understanding your living needs, one has a financial goal to aim for. This will allow you to work to manifest whatever is currently ‘short’ in your monthly financial life (pay off debts, save more, buy an important piece of equipment for your work, etc.). 

Celebrate and share your prosperity with people in your life. By validating and speaking aloud to others in your life what you want to attain and why helps you frame your vision with all your spirit and emotion behind it. “I am a prosperous artist with a dedicated and appreciative fan base that financially supports my music.” “I am a voice and an instrument for philanthropy and financial empowerment for women.” By positioning one’s work in a way that puts out into the universe what you wish to create and sharing this aloud and in writing with others, this will help to manifest your new reality. By speaking with power out loud with gratitude for the wealth (in all forms) when you receive, it will connect you to more resources

Speak with affirmation around what you do with your money. A great sense of pride can be framed in how you state how you use your gifts. “The gifts I have received have been transformed into a car for my work and life, gifts for people I love and art to share with others.” Stating this in the positive versus saying, “I am not sure where my money went this month”, gives you more power with how you have used your prosperity to do good in the world. 

Work to reframe any negative learnings you have around money from your parents or upbringing or have made up about your relationship with money. All of us have inherited some of the language of our family around money and examining these words, emotions and repositioning them is critical. As well, we have decided certain things about ourselves that we state as reality when, in fact, they may be internal fears that keep us from truly having all that we need and want in life. If we were told “you are not good with numbers” or “you will never amount to anything”, then this is what we will believe of ourselves until we decide to have a new affirmation and release these worn out ‘stands’ about ourselves. If our parents agreed that living financially day to day was OK for them, we get to decide if this is OK for our emotional psyche. If we think that people ‘blow’ money versus buy valuable things and celebrate life, then how would we ever have a great vacation? Taking the time to really look at these stands and reposition them with positive affirmations is important work to truly understand and live a prosperous life. 

Eight Principles for Systemic Change

Philanthropists and leaders take on issues that they want to change.  Using our time, talent and treasure, we want to make a positive impact on people’s lives and society.   We have witnessed the years  it often takes to better the world whether it is to addressing the trafficking of children, lifting up the economic power of women,  building a culture that accepts women athletes, allowing anyone who loves another to marry who they choose, etc.  These victories (albeit some of them still a work in progress) are stellar to witness done well.   Serious change happens for the good when people focus on these key principles. 

1.     Be persistent and passionate.  Find as many ways to restore and renew your passion as possible.  Energy for the long game is a necessary ingredient. 

2.     Remove the ego and attack the issue.   Focus on the issue and not about any one organization claiming the victory.  

3.     Use the legal system.  Oftentimes it is the laws and policies that are written and/or enforced that need to be upheld that will have the broadest impact on the highest number of people.  Investing in advocacy and policy work is a game changer for most issues.. 

4.     Collaborate and play team.  Find likely and unlikely partners who will share in the work and are willing to keep the focus on the change you all seek to make. 

5.     Hire top level experts.  When necessary, outside researchers, policy leaders or spokespeople can shape and craft messages and garner new audiences. 

6.     Gather hard data to share.  By using quality research and facts that can’t be dismissed, the emotion about the issue can be dampened.  Let the numbers tell the story and now with infographics, the images can bring the data to life. 

7.     Leverage every outlet for storytelling.  Social media gives ample opportunity to showcase the ‘stories’ and people who make the issue you are addressing come to life.

8.     Use your wealth and “clout”.  Be willing to invest for the long term and find funders who understand this.  

What I Would Tell My 18-year-old Self

In the fall of 1980, as I left New Hampshire to go to Ithaca College in upstate New York, one of a handful of students in my class who would leave the state for college and the first of my siblings to pursue a four year degree, I wish I had the certainty to have known the following:

  1. That deeply loving women and being a lesbian is a magical, powerful, loving, brave, acceptable way of being in the world no matter what anyone says to you or how isolating it may feel at times.                                                                                                                                                                                             
  2. That the love you have for basketball, competing and being the coach on the floor will place you in settings you could never dream of to promote women athletes as leaders and to help shape the women’s sports movement.                                                                                                                        
  3. That owning your confidence as a ‘spiritual jock’ and a coach will drive your success in board rooms, as an entrepreneur, a leader, a partner and as a speaker for and about equity, gender and money.                                                                                                                                                                       
  4. That keeping a journal and writing your goals, prayers and ideas down is a healing activity for a busy, bold mind and will guide your success in unknown ways.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  5. That having a spiritual practice of moving your body, meditating and being in nature may not seem ‘normal’ but who cares; it will serve you through the deaths of your parents and loved ones, many health challenges and other unimaginable losses and heartaches that come your way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  6. That learning happens with real time exposure to people, conversations, countries and challenges.  Books, degrees and good grades are important but real life lessons will be found when you get out and share your authentic curiosity and explore new arenas.                                          
  7. That unconditional giving and being generous and compassionate with others leads to sustainable happiness and immense self-satisfaction.

Why It's Okay to Be Called a Tomboy

A colleague of mine, Liz Wolfson, started a school for girls in Colorado that has movement as a core component of the mission. The Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) curriculum is based on research showing that the more your body’s engaged, the better your mind can function.

Imagine what our lives would be like if we integrated movement, wellness, healthy foods, and athletics into every aspect of our day? In a culture where gender norms have 10-year-old girls in dresses and 10-year-old boys in football pads, we need more places where girls are encouraged to be confident and physically expressive.

By the time a girl is 17, she’s seen more than 250,000 TV commercials promoting unrealistic body types. This translates to 53% of 13 year old girls who hate their bodies; jumping to 78% by age 17. Marketing, advertising, and gender norms continuously tell us we are flawed, and the cosmetic industry banks on the idea that girls and women have low self-esteem. As parents, friends, and family members, we have an obligation to make sure we’re having conversations and offering solutions to counter these media and advertising messages; especially for girls.

Soccer Mom, and Olympic gold medalist Julie Foudy spoke about her daughter Izzy’s first encounter with the tomboy archetype. “When Izzy asked what a tomboy was and if it was a good thing, I said it was a great thing! It meant she was strong, active, happy, confident, and liked sports. And that mommy was a tomboy too. ‘Oh good,’ she replied. ‘I just thought it meant I liked guns and swords like Declan (her brother), and I don’t like those.’ Now, I often hear her tell other friends with pride that she’s a tomboy.”

Athletes and tomboys like young Izzy stand a better chance against Madison Avenue–and in life in general. The benefits to girls and women who play sports are many; better health, higher confidence, stronger self-image, and better grades. On average, female athletes are more likely to have a positive body image and are less likely to consider themselves overweight than females who don’t take part in sports (Hausenblas and Downs, 2001; Miller et al., 2001). And, new research has scientifically proven that increased blood volume in the brain, a product of exercise, creates an optimal environment to grow neural connections and produce an assortment of beneficial molecules (Brown and Fenske, The Winning Brain, 2010).

Foudy and her husband Ian are parents who talk to their daughter about appearance and makeup (which came up when Foudy was transformed to look good for the ‘lights of television’ as a broadcaster for the World Cup). Julie tells Izzy that ”if someone is so worried about how they look on the outside, they’re not taking good enough care of the inside. We want the inside to be beautiful and the outside will then shine.”

By playing sports, we learn that we can do almost anything as long as we’re willing to practice and be committed to learning new things. An athlete who has a tough day at practice or a lousy game knows that she’s still a good person and there’s always another day.

“Sport, especially team sports, teaches us how to work with one another and go through the triumphs and tribulations together. Being on a team, you learn to embrace differences. You’re exposed to others who have different backgrounds, and you have to figure out how to relate and work together for a common goal,” says Hilary Knight, Olympic silver medalist in ice hockey. Sport teaches us that it’s okay to make mistakes; the secret to getting better at whatever you want to do is never making the same mistake twice.

Getting more girls to embrace being a tomboy, play sports, and challenge gender assumptions and media hype to be a ‘girly girl’ (as Izzy calls it) takes guts. As Anita DeFrantz, the highest ranking woman on the International Olympic Committee, says “Give a young girl a ball and a doll,” as a way to encourage people to expose girls to sports early. I like to say, give a young boy a ball and a doll too! Then we can encourage the nurturing and caregiving qualities of boys and the strength and confidence of girls from an early age.

4 Successful Athletes Share Their Best Relaxation Techniques

People think genius is genetic, but it’s not. It takes time and repetition to master a skill. Practice a habit for 66 days and it can become hard wired. Athletes are often the best visual example of genius. Their ability to perform a physical skill has been honed from decades of practice. When it comes to competition, they know that their mental focus or attention is the reason for victory or loss.

What about everyday people who aren’t competing for the world championship, yet want to deepen their mental focus? The first step is to fuel your brain, specifically the frontal lobe where discipline and willpower reside. And the frontal lobe is stimulated with sleep, exercise, and meditation. And since we’ve been told time and time again that meditation and mindfulness can help you become more disciplined and reduce stress, here are some athletes who might finally make you believe it/want to do it yourself.

Anne Abernathy: 6-time Olympian in Luge and Currently Training for the 2016 Olympics in Archery

“In sport it’s important to not only stay relaxed, but also keep your energy at a high level. It can be done by repeating self-affirming messages such as: “I’ve trained hard, I deserve to be here.”  At the same time, shrug your shoulders, then take a deep belly breath and let it out slowly focusing on relaxing your neck and shoulder muscles as you slowly exhale. The rest of the body will automatically follow suit and relax. Complete this routine before an intense activity, or when you’re visualizing kicking butt in the task ahead.

This last step is the most important part, yet everyone always seems to forget it. You have to let go. I try and follow the same three steps: 1. Do self-affirming message, 2. Shrug, take a deep breath, relax shoulders, and 3. Let go.”

Elena Hight: Two-time Olympian and 4-time Winter X Games Medalist in Snowboarding

“Training and competition can be super high stress environments, which is exactly the time when it’s most important to be able to be calm and composed. I’ve found that starting my day off with a meditation and a morning yoga routine always puts me in the best mindset to tackle the day. During events or training sessions that elevate stress, I always take five minutes and sit in nature. If I’m at the top of a halfpipe and the tension is thick or I get nervous, this means stepping into the trees where no one can see me and away from the high energy of the event. There is nothing better than stillness to calm you down.”

Elana Meyers Taylor: Two-time Olympic Medalist in Bobsledding

“Before a competition I need to be calm and relaxed to drive my sled well. What works best for me is praying—nothing is more calming then realizing that the world is bigger than just this race and praying helps me put everything into perspective. Also, constantly reminding myself that I have done everything possible to prepare for that moment gives me the assurance that I can relax and let my hard work shine through to my performance.”

Dawn Riley: America’s Cup and Around the World Sailboat Racer

“Sailing is both physical as well as mental. Stress makes you stupid and you can’t afford that so I have a few things I do and coach. Be prepared—I always have my chap stick, electrical tape, and knife. And if I’m nervous I just touch them in sequence and that’s a signal to myself: ‘I’ve got this. Let’s go.’

I also use a breathing technique a coach taught me when I threw discus in high school. Deep breath, chest out, shoulders back, hold it; exhale keeping chest and shoulders puffed out; relax all. Do that a few times before a regatta or a speech and it helps a lot.”

Thanks to Yolanda Jackson and Marketing Female Athletes for her support in securing the athlete stories.