2014 New York Nonprofit Conference: Chelsea Clinton on Fundraising and Storytelling
As a fundraiser, you can have all of the most wonderful ideas and the cleanest data in the world, but you won't raise a lick of money if you aren't an effective storyteller.
That's because "fundraising is storytelling," as Brian Cowart, chief development officer at Disabled American Veterans, said yesterday during his sit-down Q&A with Chelsea Clinton at the DMA Nonprofit Federation's 2014 New York Nonprofit Conference.
Storytelling was a big theme during the kickoff luncheon, in which, Clinton, the keynote speaker and vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, provided opening remarks and then sat down with Cowart, the 2011 Target Marketing Direct Marketer of the Year, to discuss philanthropy and fundraising.
Clinton said that much of what the Clinton Foundation does is because of direct-marketing fundraisers, specifically citing the No Ceilings initiative to further the progress of women and girls and the Too Small to Fail program to improve the health and well-being of children ages 0 to 5. She championed the work of fundraisers in making amazing things happen, because without fundraising, organizations like the Clinton Foundation would not be able to create change in the world.
Focus on the positive
During the Q&A, Cowart mentioned how the media often portrays nonprofits and fundraising in a negative light. Given that Clinton works as a part-time media correspondent, the question as to how nonprofits can overcome this perception and work better with the media to educate the public was right in her wheelhouse. Clinton had a fairly simple answer — focus on the positive.
"It's important to realize how generous Americans are. Americans have a sense of responsibility to help each other," she said. "We give financially and our time more than any other country in the world.
"People do want to believe in the best of each organization, to work for a better future. That's an American ideal," she added. "Focus on that. There are ways to tell stories to inspire and empower people for their tomorrows."