#20 | How do we remedy the sector’s misguided assumptions about fundraising?

Ericka Harney is a fundraising professional, college professor, consultant and lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. On so many levels, my conversation with Ericka had me thinking about my own experiences with nonprofits and my forthcoming maiden voyage as an adjunct this spring. Ericka has in many ways committed herself to resolving the misguided assumptions of how nonprofits should and should not operate.

Ericka finds much satisfaction when she has the opportunity to train and teach. She has observed that most fundraising professionals are self-aware and highly capable of adapting themselves to their donors’ expectations. However, their awareness may be lacking when it comes to internal barriers and communications challenges that interfere with their effectiveness.

We spent the second half of our conversation with a familiar case study – Girl Scout Cookies. Ericka insists that this organization has long struggled with the mistaken assumption that the cookie program is intended for fundraising when, in fact, its purpose is to be the world’s largest girl-run entrepreneurial effort. Similar to where we started, nonprofits and their fundraisers are wise to ensure everyone understands their operating models and to learn how to accurately convey this to their constituency.

For our listeners who would like to connect with Ericka, visit her website at ErickaHarney.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.


As a reminder, we will wrap up 2018 with a special six-part series where we will take a closer look at fundraising counsel. Many have heard me say that the fundraising profession is in the midst of a messy adolescence. Likewise, I believe that those of us to whom non-profits go for advice are experiencing some growing pains of our own. As you’ve come to expect, I don’t mind asking questions in order to better understand why this might be. Rather than assert my own opinions, I decided we would enlist the opinions of a diverse group who are providing fundraising counsel and ask them what they think some of our challenges and opportunities might be. This special series will begin on December 26.

And I would also like to alert our listeners that we are currently organizing our 2019 line-up. If you would like to be a guest in 2019, please go here.

Jason Lewis