"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Mahatma Gandhi
About two months ago I got a book entitled, "Yours for the Asking" by Reynold Levy. His credits include: President of Lincoln Center and CEO of International Rescue Committee, Senior officer of ATT&T in charge of Gov't relations, President of the ATT&T foundation and tons of other business and non profit experience.
I have just gotten around to actually reading it and am inspired to become the best fund raiser in CT and maybe the world! Lol.
But phrases like "We need your help" in a not-to-be-denied melody and lyric; the cultivation of leadership that takes off with powerful. peer-driven asking". Really speaks to me.
Instead of the negative attitude I hear from so many about the economy and "it's so hard to raise money" and "you are a start up nonprofit" and so forth, he says "don't let the nay sayers and skeptics, the preachers of doom and gloom slow you down, or alter your mood. The power of positive thinking is the very fuel that animates the best fundraisers and salesmen. "
He talks about fund raising as salesmanship. Persuasiveness. And as a performing art!
I keep highlighting so much that the whole book is going to look yellow. But he is speaking to me. Much of our fundraising will be in the hands of our board of directors, especially the new ones that we are adding with influence in the area. And Mr. Levy says, "How trustees (board members) are treated, how highly they are valued in the governance process, and how much focused time is spent in tapping their intellectual gifts and business and social connections is critical to successfully raising funds from them."
These next few months will be super important for NPT as we move to our next stage of development. I need to be accessible and to have a plan of action myself as the leader I want to be. Scheduling my time will be crucial to getting everything I need to get done (ie teaching, business etc) and everything I want to get done (the theatre).
I created this. My mission now has to be to make myself into the best leader I can to guide the fund raising that our theatre has to be great at. Not just good. Great.
This book has inspired me to take on a new challenge. I know I am good at asking people to do things. Perform, teach, give their time. Now I need to educate myself about how to implement those same skills in terms of raising money. It's about the "ask" and I want to be excellent at this.
I will be excellent at this. And I can see how I could apply this new knowledge to other aspects of my businesses and life as well. I am hungry and primed to learn this.
I wonder if I could follow Mr. Levy around for the day.....
Article in the NY Times: