4 Fundraising Influencers Worth Following This Year
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” has been the go-to guide for those seeking business-savvy social skills for decades. In this book, tycoon Dale Carnegie popularizes the power of influence and uses his enormous wealth and popularity as a basis for his expertise.
If Twitter had existed in Carnegie’s day, there’s a good chance he’d be among the most followed. Indeed, your social voice today is a strong indicator of how influential you are. Of all that has changed since the book was first published, the persistent importance hasn’t been lost on the Millennial generation. Nowadays, you’ll find “influencer culture” in nearly every industry, as people who’ve cultivated a personal brand, identity and mission use their popularity to sell items and ideas.
While we most often associate influencer culture with “cool industries” like music, fashion and entertainment, even philanthropy has a strong set of leaders whose lifestyle and mission makes them attractive thought leaders. These folks blend their experience and passion for social impact to evangelize new ideas about how to raise money to make the world a better place.
While these personalities are focused on big-picture change, their ideas and inspiration can be valuable sources of creativity and encouragement when you’re fundraising at the local level.
Check out these fundraising influencers, and share some of your favorites with us.
A Fundraising Guru: Dan Pallotta
Influencers often rise to the top because they’re willing to do things differently. They “interrupt,” as Gen-Y says, and find better ways of doing things we’ve always done.
Fundraisers across the world know Dan Pallotta’s name as a pioneer in fundraising events that interrupted the status quo. His multi-day walks generated enormous publicity and raised massive amounts of money for breast cancer, AIDS and suicide prevention (generating a combined estimated total of $582 million over 9 years). Leveraging a keen ability to gain attention while advocating in a fun and effective way, Pallotta charted new territory for fundraisers who dream big.
Pallotta now challenges traditional principles of fundraising, believing that we shouldn’t constrain nonprofits to unreasonably low overheads. He offers the idea that we should allow fundraisers to flourish and attract top talent, and provide them the flexibility to take risks and invest in the innovative solutions that could create real, large-scale change. Read his work and watch his renowned TED Talk if you need some inspiration to dream big and do things different.
A Fundraising Financier: Sasha Dichter
Sasha Dichter executes vision. As CIO of the Acumen Fund, Dichter is leading a company that is doing some seriously cool things by churning out socially innovative companies through strategic investment. Acumen is what happens when money meets ideas in the social entrepreneurship space; think of it as a capital investment company meets a social enterprise incubator. Dichter is someone who found a way to use business influence and intel to achieve insane levels of social good.
Read Dichter’s thoughts on his blog, which is updated regularly with industry-leading thoughts and experiences on giving and philanthropy. Nonprofit fundraisers can benefit especially from his advice on a topic we’re also pretty passionate about: fundraising leadership.
A Fundraising Editor-in-Chief: Stacy Palmer
News and media has always been a particularly influential platform, and those who hone their media focus can gain major influencer status in an industry.
For nearly 30 years, Palmer has led the editorial efforts of the esteemed Chronicle of Philanthropy, a publication dedicated to giving the nonprofit sector a reputable source of information and assessment. Her vision has created a go-to for fundraisers across the sector looking for the latest and greatest in fundraising news and research. She’s created a reliable, reputable source of information that adds transparency and legitimacy to fundraising.
Follow Palmer and keep up with state-of-the-sector information, and be the first to know about important conversations happening in fundraising and philanthropy. Her insights can help fundraisers assess the macro-level landscape for important trends in giving that might impact fundraising strategies in the coming year.
A Very Fun Fundraiser: Beth Kanter
For social-savvy, we love Kanter’s unique, quirky style and connectivity with the digital conversation. Her down-to-earth, common sense advice for nonprofits and fundraisers is built on decades of working, teaching and training, and then applying what works best. Above all, Kanter’s advice is practical and can be implemented in fundraising groups across industries.
We suggest reading one of Kanter’s blogs or three great books. Measuring the Networked Nonprofit may be particularly helpful for thinking about how you can frame your nonprofit organization’s impact when you go to ask for donations, as well as inspire you to collect new data and metrics on your fundraising performance.
If you like Kanter, you might also like some of these grassroots ideas for fundraisers!
Do you have any suggestions of thought leaders in the fundraising space? Let us know if we’ve missed a fundraising influencer.
Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. since 1999. He works with administrators, teachers, as well as outside support entities, such as PTAs and PTOs. Clay is a senior consultant at Big Fundraising Ideas.