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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Outside Looking In - 6 Exercises for Finding Common Ground in Diverse Groups

A fundraising colleague, Dave Tinker, CFRE was asked to lead an educational session for refugee teens primarily from Nepal, Bhutan, and the Middle East to introduce them to fundraising as a profession.

He asked the #AFPeeps, an Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) volunteer Social Media group for recommendations for activities he could do with the refugee teens. I was excited about his project because it reminded me how often I work with groups that I am not, nor will ever truly be a part of. Alice Ferris, ACFRE and I have and continue to work with numerous culturally diverse groups; Native American, Latino, Rural, African American, Afghans, Iranians, and others. We find some of our greatest satisfaction working with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

I created the following list of suggestions for activities that I think can work for any group, but will be especially effective if working with a diverse group. I think they can build trust and relationships among participants while delivering insight about your audience that you can draw upon while presenting for both humor and education. 


1. "I Am, But I Am Not" (Defy stereotype exercise) Participants work in small groups to share what "other" people's stereotypes are of them, their culture or their country. They then share how they do not fit within those stereotypes. They report out to the group. This can be a verbal/written or drawn exercise.

2. "This is America?" (Cognitive dissonance exercise) Ask them to draw 2 things. What they thought America, Americans or other American students were going to be like and then to draw what they've learned "we" are really like. Goal: getting them to share their surprises and open up about their "American" experience.

3. "Good Heart, Bad Idea" (Critical thinking exercise) Ask them to draw or perform short skit about how they see people from other countries try to help through philanthropy in their home country but in ways that are misguided, clumsy or uninformed. Then ask them to provide solutions or advice for people who still want to help. This one will have to be delicately presented or they might be reluctant to share perceived criticisms.

4. "Sesame Street - One of these things is not like the other" (Breaking down barriers) Ask them to group themselves by different criteria; physical, demographic, geographic, cultural, religious, etc. They report out after each grouping about why/how they grouped themselves. The goal is to identify sub cultures that they share with "some" others but to finish the exercise where everyone is in the same group to identify that ultimately we all share some common culture regardless of resources, education or circumstances.

5. "The ONE Thing" (Self-awareness exercise) They work in small groups and explain to each other "The One Thing" they wish people understood about them, their country or their cultures that most people have a hard time comprehending. They report out why this is important to deeper understanding, trust and progress.

6. "Why Should I Care?" (Justify support exercise) Break them up in groups of 4-5. Try to mix them so they are with people they don't know. Provide a list of causes they can choose from. Make it about causes, not organizations. arts, education, health, social justice, animal protection, hunger abatement, clean water, etc. Do a random drawing after the groups are established to determine which group gets to pick their cause first from the list you create as a flip chart exercise. This will generate initial excitement and disappointment. Every person gets $100 in play money and 1 week of "virtual" volunteer time to give to a cause. They can give both to one cause or cash to one, time to other. Report out the winning cause and "You" make an actual $100 donation to a local cause in your group's name.

Regardless of the exercise you choose. At the end I encourage "You" to make a contribution to a cause that your group chooses and have them participate by signing a card that will accompany that gift. 

Be sure to provide a signup sheet and send contact information about how the participants can become more involved with causes they want to support either financially or through volunteer work.

Good luck! And have fun learning while you teach!


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Jim Anderson, CFRE LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype GoalBustersJim
Alice Ferris, ACFRE, CFRE, MBS LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype alice.ferris

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Adventures in Fundraising: 2014 Year in Review [VIDEO]

I'm guessing that if I look at your kitchen counter or dining room table right now, there's at least one holiday newsletter sitting there. There's probably a great list of all the wonderful things your friend (or in some cases,vague acquaintance) and his or her family did this year.

Consider this the GoalBusters video version of that newsletter. And we don't even take up counter space.

The life of GoalBusters definitely had plenty of surprises this year, big and small, good and bad. Of note...
  • Visiting the NPR "mothership" in DC for a client, only to discover that Suzanne Vega is playing a Tiny Desk concert for NPR Music
  • Beginning work with two clients that dramatically shifted our client base back into public broadcasting
  • Adding a new colleague to our team, JC Patrick
  • Celebrating my birthday in Puerto Rico kayaking on a bio-luminescent bay with a gaggle of my AFP friends
Of course, there were many challenges and disappointments in 2014, and through those challenges, we learned a lot-about our profession, our clients, and ourselves.

2015 will mark the 15th year of this company, and the tenth year of Jim and I working together. As we transition into the new year, I think this quote sums up 2014 well, and is a great guiding principle for 2015:

Here's wishing you a happy holiday and a great adventure in the coming year!

Thanks for flying with us,
Founder and Partner, GoalBusters

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Life is just a pale imitation of high school"

My Alma mater, West High School, Madison, WI
In the 1980's series, thirtysomething, one character utters the line, "Life is just a pale imitation of high school." Obviously, this quote has stuck with me for a long time, among the many random verses, song lyrics and trivia trapped in my brain.

Even the most enlightened adults continue to label people for one facet of their personality--"the geek," "the jock," or "the popular girl" now replaced with "the IT guy," "the former quarterback," or "the real housewife of (fill in the blank city)." We still make decisions about a person based on who their friends are, or essentially what "clique" the person is in. We still let petty differences create big rifts that can never be forgiven. And of course, there's interpersonal drama because someone didn't do what they said they were going to do and now there's a huge blow up because you didn't get voted class president, or homecoming queen, or most likely to succeed.

But it wasn't all bad in high school, right?

Here are thoughts on things from high school to apply to adult life:

  • Some people are unexpected friends. Senior night, I ended up hanging out on the bus back to the school with a bunch of people I didn't normally spend a lot of time with. My "close" friends were no where to be found. Singing "Celebration" on the bus with people who were mostly just acquaintances was the most fun I had all night. I'm still connected to some of them 26 years later, and wonder sometimes why I didn't spend more time with them in high school. Who are people now who are those unexpected friends? 
  • Some people are not really your friends. I know I have my share of friends who at best, didn't keep in touch or at worst, totally abandoned me. Friends ebb and flow. Some people are more interested in your position in the clique than you personally. Let them go.
  • No clique lasts forever. Cliques are based on a power balance. As cliques grow, they start to lose their influence over the members. Eventually, the power shifts and new cliques form. Sometimes you just need to wait it out.
  • It might be time to graduate. You can't stay in high school forever...maybe it's time to move on to a new adventure.
  • It will seem rosier when you look back on this than it feels like right now. The nostalgia card is powerful, isn't it? Someday, with the passage of time, this will not seem like a total disaster. You'll want to go back and celebrate it, for old time's sake.


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