Developing relationships and being prepared to make an ask is only half the battle when it comes to fundraising. Join host Brickson Diamond for the third installment of Big Answers from Experts: A Series on Board Excellence, with guest Tisha Hyter of the Orr group, as they will discuss best practices for developing organic funder relationships and creative fundraising approaches in the COVID-19 era. As Vice President, Tisha provides strategic direction and development management, helping the Orr Group’s partners grow revenue, fulfill visions, and achieve sustainability. She has also used these same skills as a volunteer to personally help fundraise several million dollars in the faith, culture, and education realms; perhaps the highlight of her community service came when she co-chaired a record-breaking fundraiser for a domestic violence organization with former First Lady Michelle Obama as its featured guest.
Meet the Speakers:
After 15 years in Corporate America as a Sales Leader, Tisha pivoted her skillset and career path towards international nonprofits and local organizations that focus on the rights for women, people of color and disenfranchised communities. Most recently, Tisha served as Vice President for TIME’S UP, where she was responsible for building and overseeing their individual giving programs, hiring and training development staff, collaborating with peers in Marketing and Strategy to build partnerships in the sports and entertainment industries, representing TIME’S UP to external audiences and building a culture of philanthropy.
Prior to her work with TIME’S UP, Tisha held several leadership roles with successful nonprofits serving as Director of Philanthropic Engagement at National Women’s Law Center, Deputy Director at the United Nations Foundation, and Director of Major Gifts at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Her experience with these organizations has spanned from Southeast Washington, DC to Southeast Africa and includes event management, development of annual and capital campaigns, creating global strategies, and donor optimization.
Brickson Diamond (host) is CEO of Big Answers, LLC, which consults on diversity and inclusion strategy for clients, including AAM’s Facing Change initiative. He previously served for five years as COO of The Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent member organization of Black executives in the Fortune 1000. He is a founding board member and chair of The Blackhouse Foundation; a trustee of Brown University where he chairs the Communications, Alumni, and External Affairs Committee; and a trustee of the Middlesex School, where he chairs the board DEI Committee and Tides.
In case you missed it:
The recording and transcript of the first and second webinars in Big Answers from Experts: A Series on Board Excellence are available for AAM members to view:
Andrew Plumley: So good morning, everybody. It’s great to have all of you join us this morning. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Andrew Plumley, and I’m the Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums. And welcome to another installment of Big Answers from Experts A series on Board Excellence. I’m really excited about the next hour we have together because we have two of the most brilliant people that I know who are going to be speaking about, one of the biggest challenges that we’re seeing with many museums, especially during this time of COVID-19, which is around how best to develop organic funder relationships and really share some creative fundraising approaches that you can take.
To get us started in this conversation, I’d like to introduce Brickson Diamond, a friend, colleague, and great partner in the American Alliance of Museums, DEAI, or diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work. Brickson, is the CEO of Big Answers, LLC, which consults on diversity and inclusion strategy for clients in entertainment, technology and asset management generating new partnerships and leveraging impactful connections. He previously served for five years as COO of the Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent member organization of Black executives in the Fortune 1000.
Brickson began his career and spent 15 years as a marketing and client services executive at The Capital Group Companies, a $2 trillion global asset management firm. He’s a founding board member and chair of The Black House Foundation, which provides pathways for black multi-platform content creators into career opportunities within film, television, digital and emerging platforms. Brickson is a trustee of Brown University where he chairs the Communications, Alumni and External Affairs Committee, the Middlesex School, where he chairs the board DEI committee and tides. He is a graduate from Brown University and Harvard business school. Brickson.
Brickson: Thanks, Andrew. Great to be with everyone today and excited to bring on my dear friend and colleague in the pursuit of fundraising expert, Tisha Hyter from the ORR group. If you joined me, Tisha, hello, good morning in DC there. So we’re going to dispense with the usual introductions because Tisha and I are dear friends and so we’re going to dive right in and introduced her by way of my question. Is that okay, Tisha?
Tisha: That’s perfect. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for having me.
Brickson: And thanks for being here to all of you all and especially with Tisha. So Tisha you’re one half of a DC power couple, former corporate sales leader, philanthropic leader in your own, right? In your own community and now professional in the world of advising nonprofits on fundraising. But I want to dial back a bit just to give people a sense of how to engage donors, but also board members and leaders, providers, and vendors into your background. I’d love to help them understand your present work in the context of your life’s journey. So I won’t hold onto your hats, Tisha, where did you grow up, and how has that shaped the woman we’re delighted to speak with today?
Tisha: Thank you, Brickson, that is such a loaded question. And as a good friend of mine, you know it. I am originally from Des Moines, Iowa. I know not a lot of black folks from Des Moines but, I actually love representing Des Moines. I was born to teenage parents who had very involved parents, and my grandparents all came together to help raise me. And I just, I love the part of that being a part of my heritage that I get to represent from an early age on a lot of folks who have gone through from corporations to college to whatever reason they were in Des Moines. Now, my family’s Barbara and beauty shop, but when I think about the journey that it took, oftentimes people ask me, how did you get into fundraising?
And I go back to when I was seven or eight years old that’s really when I got into philanthropy. I was at the church across the street from my school where they serve free breakfast and someone, I don’t remember if it was a man or woman noticed that it was cold outside and I didn’t have a coat. And so they got me a coat and it was this peach coat with the fur fuzz around. Remember that time in the seventies? Well, we want to age ourselves, but anyway, that’s when I had this really incredible memory marker of matching my faith with service.
And that’s really for me what philanthropy has been about. So I absolutely love now using that as using that little girl to help drive the work that I get to do in fundraising. So yeah, it’s an really interesting journey, and had some corporate experience in it. When I left Corporate America and became a stay-at-home mom and realized I was never at home because I was out using my sales and marketing fills in the community, fundraising really became a part of just my being. So I hope that answers your question.
Brickson: It does. And I hadn’t heard the peach coat with the collar before, so I’m excited to have that as a takeaway from the source of not just your philanthropy, but also your fabulousness. So thank you for that note. But your life experiences have really informed and serve as inspiration for your service. And you’ve done that moment of grace to you as a child. In winter, you repaid in numerous ways across experiences you’ve had in life, good and bad. You talk to us about how you combine your purpose and work and take inspiration from those experiences to have impact on other people’s lives.
Tisha: Yeah. I think it’s related to the Michelle Obama book, the title, Becoming. Every day that I’m alive, I feel like have the opportunity to learn and serve. And so, when I think about the experiences that I’ve had, the good ones where I’ve been blessed beyond measure and feel a responsibility to give back basically are with my husband and I, with our donor advise fund and philanthropy, but there have also been times in my life where I’ve been in a domestic violence situation and an abusive relationship, and that actually planted the seed for me to get involved with a domestic violence organization here in DC, and actually have the first lady Michelle Obama as a keynote speaker for one of our fundraisers. So it’s all of these full-circle moments that allow us to grow and use that experience in service of others. And so, I really do see that as just being a part of the work that I get to do, the good and the bad.
Brickson: That is inspirational, that is at least, but also product for laying our conversation. I want to just pay a little bit of local landscape for a moment. So we both moved to DC around the same time. You from Southern Florida, me from Southern California. You came to DC in late 2012 or 2013, is that about right?
Tisha: 2013, yeah.
Brickson: With your husband, I remember you told me that you all were coming at the inauguration event we ha at the Bay Avenue and that was very exciting, but you moved with a teenage son as well from Southern Florida and a whole new landscape, the beginning of the second Obama administration. What did you find yourself in the midst of, and how did you figure out how to get involved?
Tisha: It worked really incredible. I had speaking amongst friends of the numerous friends that we have here, I had the largest case of imposter syndrome. I thought for as much as I remembered the gift of that little girl experience, I still also have the insecurities of that little girl. So I’m coming to this incredibly glossy town of DC and wondering how I’m going to fit in. I have a husband who’s super-connected in DC. I have a son who was playing football and basketball and has never met a stranger, and he was going to an independent school and he was going to be super connected and all the things. And so I was just like, “How do I fit in here?” And so, I just went Michael Jordan through the basics.
And I started volunteering. I volunteered at a school where I got to know people. I volunteered for the national museum of African-American history and culture doing their fundraising tours. I volunteered throughout the community. And it was a really wonderful way for me to get plugged in. And those volunteering experiences really led me to the opportunities that I had to use my skills. As I mentioned, domestic violence organization became something that was really important to me, but then that also led to roles at the national women’s law center at times up and now here at ORR group.
Brickson: And so, just a little bit more clarity on that. So those roles were full-time professional roles, and you were able to translate that philanthropic work into full-time career work?
Tisha: Yeah, exactly. So I think especially for fundraisers who are out there, who may be in between jobs, that’s my recommendation, that’s my advice about fundraise, fit in where you can, and get to know people. And as people get to know you, then they’ll say, “Hey, there’s an opportunity that you might be interested in.” And so that’s really been my journey here is just through this blossoming friendship. And now I feel really blessed to have an incredible tribe and network here in DC, and that we really consider this home. It has the theme, small-town views that Des Moines has. So I feel like really that this is the place that will probably be for a long time.
Brickson: So with that though, nothing lasts forever, even if you are there. And DC has this little change that happens down the Pennsylvania Avenue that has some pretty big effects in normal times, much less on precedent times. We talk a bit about how you manage that sort of shifting fan of DC, right? So super close proximity to power for four years and then that’s over and four years of a different dynamic. How did you maintain solid ground with all that shifting sand?
Tisha: So without getting too political, we spent the night the three of us watching the results, and really the next morning we’re in a state of disbelief. We were exhausted but my son still wanted to go to school. We gave him the option of taking the day off, but we said well, he still wanted to go to school and he wanted to be amongst his friends. And one of his friends had a parent in the administration. And I remember pulling up to the school at the same time her vehicle arrived and they got out normally would be super jovial. And it was just like the oxygen had been sucked out of them as they took their stroll up the stairs and onto the campus of the school. And so it was tough when I got to my office that day there was this sense of what do we do now?
But I think we had the responsibility to rise. One of my colleagues sharing a quote with me that said, roots grow stronger after the storm. And when I think about the work that needed to be done for women, for children around the world, for civil rights, it really made me feel like the work and development was more important than ever to make sure that we fought for the people that were disadvantaged or oppressed in any way. So, I don’t know if we would have fought this hard had we not had something to fight against.
Brickson: Yeah. Just before we leave this local landscape, I just want to make sure we translate this for people back in the local communities, right? So there are moments that change a city. I’d love for you to think back to your time in South Florida, or even back in Iowa about how this sort of lesson applies. How does this put a change in dynamic apply to driving inspiration in other localities?
Tisha: Yeah. I think we live in our countries like a kaleidoscope. There’s this view that you’re looking through and there’s a million different facets that some are sharper and more clear than others. And so when I think about what the change meant to places like South Florida or Iowa, I know that there were some really progressive moments in Iowa that I love to honor the fact that my Iowa was one of the first states that legalized same-sex marriage. Iowa, the barbershop in Des Moines was a regular place for politicians to come through. So my grandparents had the honor of having a photo with President Obama. And so, I think there are different ways that the States, the communities all took on this change, but nonetheless, I think even today, even after the events of this year, we’ve all tried to rise to be even stronger.
Brickson: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I want to talk about your experience in philanthropy more specifically. And so, each of us has so much to bring, and you talked about how you bring your experiences to your work and your contribution. Tell us a best and worst example here. What is one of the worst and best experiences you’ve had with being brought into the fold of an organization around fundraising? Just thinking about when you’ve been utilized the be stand encountered relationships and when that’s gone not well at all.
Tisha: Both sides of the spectrum really have leadership involved in it. So I remember when I first got started, I had this incredible boss who would say, I had a clear job description, a clear mission, and my boss would say, “You don’t work for me, I work for you. So tell me what roadblocks that you need meet to move, help me understand how I can be a partner to the work that you’re doing because I just want to get out of your way and let you shine in this role.” And then from the other side of the spectrum, if a leader does not have a clear vision, if a leader can not release responsibility of if they’re going through that founder syndrome and can’t allow other people to come in I think that presents a challenge. And so, it really starts at the top. And when I look at the opportunities that I have again, all lessons learned both good and bad.
Brickson: And so, from actually doing the fundraising many cases to actually now the ORR group, both advising and supporting the execution of those strategies, tell us a bit about your work. What is the ORR group, what are you doing there, and what lessons can we learn real fast for free from your experiences?
Tisha: Yes, I feel really lucky to have been introduced to the ORR group. I was looking at a couple of opportunities last year and the ORR group came and said, “We’d really love for you to join our work.” And I had no clue what consulting and fundraising looked like. But after talking to the leadership again, hearing the vision, hearing the history of the 30 years that Steve and his wife Carol Orr, have founded this organization and now it’s grown to 50 really interesting experienced individuals. I think I’m just again, that feeling at home. I get to work really unique clients who are facing fundraising challenges, especially during this time of COVID. And I come in as a vice president, advising the executive directors, being a partner to the board, providing leadership to fundraising staff, and helping with strategy. So it’s a really fun way to use my skillset. And on some days I could be on the phone or on zoom all day. I have an incredible client in California in the Bay area and another one in Kenya, and so that time difference is really unique, but I think again, that’s this unexpected gift of COVID is that we could be on a call together and no one even realizes that you’re in Los Angeles and I’m in Washington DC right now.
Brickson: Yeah. All right, that’s helpful. And it’s exciting work, but can you give us a sense as we transition into this experiential fundraising conversation in earnest. What advice are you giving your clients about how to engage board members, right. So that daunted sort of dreaded board member you got to go out there and raise the money. How are you advising clients broadly to engage their board members in their fundraising efforts?
Tisha: Well, I think there are two things that we really focus on, or I really focus on in the beginning. The first is relationship mapping, understanding who board members have in their sphere of influence, what their network looks like, the conversations that you can have. And not every board member will want to be a fundraiser, but every board member has the capability to be a good ambassador. Once you provide them with the tools and resources, the elevator pitch, the one-liners, the features, advantages, and benefits of the organization, give them the tools so that you make it really easy for them to be partners in it. Another thing that has been really good about engaging board members is technology.
I have, and the organization I work within that space in Kenya has a board member that is in London. And we have been doing these innovation salons where he invites friends from California to London, and we have conversations about the work that we’re doing. It’s with we’re in 20 million countries with this organization, and so we have country managers come on, we present images and videos of the work that we’re doing. And so it’s a really unique way of embracing technology for this moment. So those relationships feed into who shows up and who shows up, feeds into additional relationships. So I love the kind of loop that those two elements provide to board members.
Brickson: So 20 countries hit, but so that’s a nice circle, where’s the money come in? To be very blunt when do we get to ask for money?
Tisha: Well, the money comes in when you provide a compelling case for support. That’s a lot of what we do on the front end for the organizations that we work with. We don’t just dive in and say, let’s start fundraising day one. It’s really a matter of understanding, creating a development strategy, creating case for support, understanding the competitive landscape, knowing what stakeholders have to say from board members to funders, and really creating a comprehensive roadmap for what’s ahead. And then we come along and we have the opportunities to, to say to board members in this particular case, these are the ways in which we can support you. So for example, if that board member is having an innovation salon, we provide them with the language they could use in the invitations.
We provide them with the follow-up language. They join the calls, the first call that we may have with someone who expressed interest in that innovation salon and just wanting to have more information. So by giving, we make it easy for board members, board members are super busy, and so they don’t want this to be another thing that they add to the plate. So make it easy for board members to not only support your organization with the tools that they need but fall in love with your organization, with the stories of success and support.
Brickson: That’s great. So thinking about diving into the institutional question of individual organization, so we’re going to try to do a broad set of questions that hit a number of organizations on the phone. So you’re an expert in such areas as creative fundraising, organic networking, and getting individual folks prepared to support the fundraising efforts like you discussed. How do organizations go about best calibrating bear on creativity where they needed to be mindful of the geography and the social dynamics to say how wild and crazy they can get with their fundraising efforts because we don’t give them some ideas for some out of the box things, but let’s make sure we acknowledge that not everybody lives in South Beach Miami.
Tisha: Right. But everyone has a story that ties them to philanthropy whether it’s their personal story, something they’ve seen, something they’ve experienced. I’ve found, I’ve seen experiences where you can ask a donor for $5,000 to support a water project in Rwanda, but giving that donor the opportunity to travel with you to Rwanda and dig that well together with their family, that experiential opportunity allows them to say, this isn’t just about writing a cheque because it’s the right thing to do. I’m high, I’m emotionally tied to that village that we supported. Of course, as you can’t just hop on a plane with everyone and travel to Rwanda, but then I got to the point where I was working with donors with VR and using tools that would allow them to even send out cardboard headsets to take people on journeys to refugee camps in Tanzania giving them the opportunity to have space.
And I see a lot of museums are even thinking about how to use VR to give people experiences. Those experiences provide the connection that needs to be made. But again, the innovation salons are also another way to be creative, to create a sense of community. I think we’re both exhausted and fed by the zooms, they’re both draining and exhausting. So we’re on the zooms all day long, but we’re also getting that sense of community that we’re not getting. And so, right now, I just, I think as much as we can creatively use technology to show the work that you’re doing, to tell the stories of your organization, I think that’s going to be key. And I don’t even say in the short term, there’s value. Like now instead of Brickson saying, come to my country club in LA, which I wouldn’t be able to do, now, you can say, come to my zoom be a part of the salon. And now you’ve broadened that relationship map that we talked about earlier.
Brickson: And I would add to that. I think that we have to think about the post-pandemic reality, which is going to be hybrid. You’re still not going to get on a plane and come to my club because you got stuff to do. And that doesn’t mean that you’re out of reach. It just means that I have to find a new way to engage you. But in line with that, this organic networking concept. How do organizations think about that with respect to diverse board members and communities? So, and I’m just going to be really prescriptive here. We live inside this is doom room now more than ever, but that’s not dissimilar from our communities, we lived in isolation before, right? We weren’t really, people in Northwest Washington weren’t terribly engaged with people in Anacostia unnecessarily. So what does organic networking mean when you’re talking about diverse board members and community that may be in many ways far away from where you are?
Tisha: Yeah. I think it’s about intentionality and proximity. I’ve been last month during black history month, I was reading Madam CJ Walker’s, Gospel of Giving book, really good book about black women in philanthropy and a really good roadmap. And the writer or the author reminds us to celebrate the donors who give a stretch gift of a thousand dollars. Those donors are just as important as a donor who gives $10,000 and they’re not a stretch, that’s not something that was a stretch for them. So take a look at that stretch donor and find out why they gave and see if their voice could add value to your organization in any way on an advisory board. Think about the board members, I just have to remind everyone there’s a giver get, there is instead of just looking at board members as the staying in their own lane of a fiscal responsibility of 50 or $100,000 or whatever the case may be, think of the voice and the value of that voice that they can bring to the organization.
I think we’ve really seen over the last couple of years whether your eyes were widened a small amount or a large amount, there’s value in diverse voices. We’ve seen it with the elections. We’ve seen it in the racial justice system, we’ve seen it in organizations that are out there trying to do the work. I think Steve Orr, at my organization has known the value of diversity for a long time. And I think that’s a big part of why I’m able to be a leader and have a voice at the table. When I meet with organizations a lot of whom are [BiPAP 00:28:02] organizations here at ORR group, I can use my voice and my experiences. And so I think organizations need to look at board members in that same way. How can we use the voices and experiences of other people to add value to the work that we’re doing?
Brickson: I want to press you a little bit on that though because I think it is easy for you and I to say that in some ways because we have this perspective and this community ties, but I do have concern for our attendees today who just feels far away from it, right? Are there some do’s or don’ts that you would advise particularly with someone who is either wearing their fundraising hat or has their fundraising hat in hand when they go into [BiPAP 00:28:49] communities to try to recruit folks. And Steve Orr is a great counterexample because he’s believed and shown evidence of his engagement and diversity for four years, but folks who are just getting started. And then, to your earlier point imposter syndrome, right? They come in and like, ORR group is here, we’re going to get in. And they’re like, “I hope no one is asking me any really tough question because I don’t have any really good answers.” How do you advise clients or even friends who are aware of this huge need and opportunity to tread and to enter the space?
Tisha: I don’t know if you meant to bring it up, but the Indianapolis incident comes to mind, but you can’t look at diversity through a lens with tokenism. You can’t just say I want a black person to be my executive director, but don’t worry white donors, we’re not going to turn the organization black. You have to be very mindful and thoughtful about why DEI is important to you. Putting it’s very easy for people to say, “Oh, DEI is the right thing to do.” The next question after that is, why is it the right thing to do? And when you get to the why of an organization, why is it important to your organization to have a diverse board, to have a diverse staff, to have diverse donors, then you go in with authentic intentionality. Another client I just started working with is, we’re just working with them purely on the DEI side and fundraising.
They looked around and realized, wow, our entire staff is homogenized. There’s all-white mostly men straight men, our donor base looks the same, our board looks the same, but we’re talking about things that are important to everyone. And so we’re missing out, we’re missing out on fundraising because that’s a byproduct of making yourself better as an organization through DEI, then all of a sudden your aperture expands and you see the value of having authentic diverse voices. So I really think when you step back that intentionality includes education, allyship, partnering, mentoring, asking another organization how they did it as well. I think it’s just being open to learn before jumping right in.
Brickson: And how do you think about this notion of the local sort of power structure? So we talked about it a little bit in DC, it shifts back and forth, but now folks that are close to you were in control when you got to Washington or back, those shifting fan, how do you think about how to build it back, which is so relevant not just in a political sense, but in a pandemic sense as well. What kinds of tips do you have because you’re engaged in this conversation two months in, three months into an administration, but also the glimmers of hope on the horizon around the vaccine pick up and impact now that we’re going to get out there and have our people in the right places. Again, if you’re in DC in that political persuasion, and they’re going to open up the outside again. What tips do you have to folks to re-engage philanthropy despite the hybrid thing we talked about, but just what should folks be thinking about in these early days as we approximate something new?
Tisha: Yeah, I think there’s going to be a desire to jump right in and start doing things right away. And I think we need to take it easy. We need to understand that there are things won’t be back to the way they were. Things will be, and I won’t say a new normal because I’m like that term is just making my mind crazy right now. We’ll just be in the way that we work in the future. And so, I think for organizations that have buildings, maybe you’ve even broken the office, maybe you’ve seen increased productivity by having people work from home, maybe you see the opportunity to connect with donors all over the world by being able to work from home. So I wouldn’t necessarily look at life after vaccination as liberation from any of this.
I think it’s an augmentation and allows us to say I happen to be available that afternoon, let’s go for a walk where there’s still fresh air, there’s still this self-care that a lot of us are trying to practice right now. And I think this new way that we work will allow us to be even more effective. Then when I also looked look at organizations and how they may react to the new administration, any of the rules that come up, I see my friends, my former colleagues at the National Women’s Law Center, for example, really celebrating the progress that’s been made over the last what is it like, 60 days, but who’s counting? But really looking at the fast amount of progress has been made.
And I think it’s both a celebration, but also a little bit of that’s how it should be. And so, I think we still are able to keep our heads down and really focus on providing resources and tools through the skills to the communities that we serve. I have a really great friend who happens to be the executive director of the boys and girls club here in Greater Washington, an organization that serves probably some of the most disadvantage communities throughout the Greater Washington Area. And I remember speaking to her recently where she was saying that they went on lockdown, they shut down their facilities for about two weeks.
And then they pivoted, they found ways to create really strong programming in the kids’ homes for essential workers. They were the point of resource when it came to childcare, they used their staff to really touch in and focus on the mental health of kids. I don’t see any of those things necessarily changing. We’ll be augmenting that with more opportunities to be in a physical space, but I don’t think we’ll ever throw away the value that we’ve received over just connecting like this.
Brickson: That’s great. I want to let you know we’re going to move into the Q and A in a moment. So if you have questions, you have two options, one is to type your questions in the Q and A portal button space in the zoom window, or raise your hands. And just as a warning, those of you who raise your hands or ask particularly great questions in the Q and A, we’re going to actually try to bring you on camera so you can join us here and we can see[inaudible 00:36:46].
Tisha: So you have turned to judge?
Brickson: Yeah, turned to judge and picture lighting in your background, if you haven’t already done a background set up or shoot your virtual background. So as we wait for questions Tisha, I do want to touch back on those virtual events. You just gave me some great example of an engagement point with beneficiaries, can you tell us your favorite for the pandemic era fundraising sort of friend-raising event of the last crazy year?
Tisha: Well, I think, one I’m really looking forward to is that we are able to have a private event with a major donor who happens to be in the theater world and bringing in high net worth prospects to an experience that they wouldn’t necessarily achieve. I think about those in the arts community, you have the contacts, you have people in the arts world that can do virtual tours, exhibits of their work. I’ll be attending one pretty soon David Driskell and the artists that worked under his tutelage. So there are ways that you can get really creative. And I think that’s the most fun when you can bring people together, put them in community, allow them to have a shared experience. And that’s really what fundraisers to me is about.
It’s about people coming together to help fulfill a mission through a shared experience. So I just to close though, I really do want to emphasize the value of diversity having this opportunity to really focus on, to look around and see whether or not people of color are a part of your organization, a part of your community. I think that is a really neat way of embracing this time as well. Like, gather stories, better understand people, better understand why the Tisha Hyters of the world are in fundraising. You may think that I’m in fundraising because I was good at sales marketing, or you may think that I’m good at fundraising because I was intrinsically tied to the work through our family’s donor-advised fund, but I’m really in fundraising because of that little girl who got the peach coat with fur.
Brickson: That’s amazing. That’s wonderful. And so thinking about that, and this is how do organizations mentioning organization bring [BiPAP 00:39:24] leaders into the fold of our organization and then engage them in the important work of drawing in their networks and asking other people for money. There’s this sort of myth and I think caution around [BiPAP 00:39:38] leaders in the fundraising piece, in Utah, wonderful stories and points of engagement, but I’d love to, as we draw to a close push you a little bit on what are some of the key dos and don’ts for mainstream organization looking to connect with [BiPAP 00:39:56] leaders for the money, right? We’re talking about creative fundraising, but just what are the dos and don’ts they should think about in terms of our communities and the fundraising approach and ethos.
Tisha: Yeah. I think leaders need to ask, they need to ask on board members, do you know any people of color or women that would be thrilled to be a part of our community? But we just haven’t asked, we just haven’t had the conversation because we’ve just been really focused or we’ve been really, we thought that that wasn’t a part of anything beside our world. So I think they need to ask. I think organizations need to ask also for help. And so, they come alongside organizations and this is not a promotion, but they do come alongside organizations like the ORR group and say, “Please help us, we don’t know exactly what to do.” And so we have subject matter experts in certain areas that can come alongside and create a plan. And then with that plan, you have key performance indicators.
You have metrics, you have goals that you set in there so that this isn’t just about, again, saying diversity is a nice thing to do. You dive into why it’s the nice thing to do, why it’s the important thing to do for business. And you make that a part of your strategy. And then I think also, you ask yourself, am I providing a safe, inclusive environment in the physical space that I own in the virtual space I own? Am I the person that would be approached by a donor of color who says I am thrilled about your mission, how can I give? Because those donors are out there, donors of color are out there. I don’t want, especially in the world of like mega and major philanthropy, I don’t want you to think that that donor looks as one of my calling says pale male and stale. Those are not the only major donors out there. And I think people like McKenzie Scott have shown us that donors come in all kinds of packages. And so are you reflective of the packages of donors that are out there?
Brickson: And then to your earlier point of making sure that you’re some organization and a leader they can approach?
Brickson: Right. That’s not easy. So I want to see if you have any examples of folks who might be surprisingly approachable, right. Maybe not by name, but just by archetype.
Tisha: We have had a couple of webinars recently, two come to mind, one with Dick Marriott of the Marriott Foundation, an incredible philanthropist. He and his family have given to the giving pledge, and they have been clients of ORR group for a long time. We love being an advisory role. We love being able to help organizations become even better, but one of the other organizations that we’ve had the privilege of working with that we just did a webinar with is the Obama foundation. And looking at the roles that again, the stories of the organization can have when it comes to building diversity, I just really think that at the root of everything that we do, it all goes back to the story that we tell.
Brickson: So one of my to recalibrate a little bit for our audience as well, because they’re not, but to Obama’s where there are four, but there are two that are working for the foundation. So for smaller organizations, for smaller more niche nonprofits, how do they think about that diversity fundraising piece? You’re out of town, you’re in Des Moines and you’ve got a small institution, where do we find our local Tisha Hyter?
Tisha: You talk to your board, you engage your board, you look around, you do an assessment, whether through an organization or by yourself as to who else is out there, who else. I find really there’s so much data out there. So you can do a search on who are the CEOs in last year that have given $100,000 or more to racial equity. Well, that becomes your pool of prospects for you to not only fundraise too but for you to reach out too and say, “I see you’re really passionate about the work that we’re doing with racial justice. I’d love to tell you more and figure out ways that you can get involved.” I have racial justice equity fund that I’m working on with a client right now.
And we’ve had incredible luck looking at Twitter, who’s following us on Twitter. And we found a former basketball player who is very philanthropic, does very well for himself as an entrepreneur, and he’s become a great partner. We’ve had great exchanges with them and that relationship may take time to cultivate, but the point is, I don’t know if we would have seen that by just sitting in our offices, we had to get creative. And so that’s just another example of how we’ve just used these times to see who was out there.
Brickson: I love that, that’s super creative and innovative. I think about just to add to that, particularly for black and Hispanic communities, the church is so important, right. And for Asian-Pacific Islander communities as well. So you think about, and I think about this racial justice work, but this diversity and inclusion, as well as belonging work as being about all these diverse groups. And so if you want to go find them, these folks, it’s good to go find in local communities and organizations that are meaningful to them. So think about sororities and fraternities, both for black and Latin X communities because those organizations are very service-oriented, thinking about the church as well.
Tisha: I’m a member of the link, so that’s a part of our ethos is friendship and service. There are lots of organizations that you can just look around out there and say they are in alignment with our mission, how can we talk to them? So you just have to, again, broaden the aperture, look at what’s beyond what you’ve been currently seeing.
Brickson: Can you talk a bit about the links actually? What are the links, how many members, chapters? So I’m new to this, I live in Detroit, but what is this links you speak of?
Tisha: I put myself out there because I don’t know the exact numbers. I would venture to guess about 50,000 black women now all over the world, primarily in North America and Europe that are members of an organization where we come together through friendship and service. This has been of course, particularly challenging for us to do what we found creative ways to support, for example, there’s a small organization here in DC that looks to get fruit out to communities that are resource only with bodegas and liquor stores. And so, by that organization, coming to my links chapter and doing a presentation last Saturday morning, now all of a sudden they have 40 affluent women of color that have an emotional tie to the work that they’ve done because they’ve seen it.
And so, those are potential donors. You ask them to act right there, right now, can you send this amount of money or tweet this, or post this, those action items are really good. Once you do get those conversations started that’s one of my biggest pet peeves is having a conversation and not having clear next steps, whether that is another conversation or an ask. And so you should always have go into a conversation knowing that there’s going to be next steps that need to come out of this. And so, going into organizations like that links chapter, my link chapter that I was talking about and having a clear ask their request was really effective.
Brickson: That’s great. And so, maybe we give a little bit of a nod to folks who aren’t as aware of the sort of the ecosystem of black excellence in the organization for lack of a better term. So there’s the link to professional women. There’s the benign nine, which are the black fraternities and sororities, which are all service-oriented. There’s the Boule, which is an association of black men. Can you play a bit more about the Boule?
Tisha: Yes. So my husband’s a member of that, is the oldest black fraternity in the United States and it was founded by W.E.B Du Bois, and it really is also focused on community and service. And so there’s a lot of support that they give through the Boule foundation. But it is a group of chapters throughout the United States that really focus on using the gifts that they’ve been given in a really philanthropic way. So, yes, the Boule foundation is a great example. The executive leadership council does a lot of generosity through the foundation. I know that we’re both tied to that organization, and so there are organizations of color out there. We’re just looking at the black organizations, but there are Hispanic and Asian, and indigenous. There are organizations that are really focused on uplifting the communities that they represent. And so go out there and find them and talk to them.
Brickson: Yeah. And I think even just an awareness of them will give you a lot of street cred, lack of a better exact return. If you ask your black staff what do you know about the links? Or a hundred black men or the other one I think about is leadership filling the city. She walks into leadership, Atlanta leadership, Los Angeles, and great organizations that do a fantastic job of recruiting diverse participants that I think are absolute targets for board positions for our museums across AAM, but also for philanthropic engagement, which is broader than as we close in on our hour. Can you talk a little bit about that notion of a thought Tropic engagement, which is beyond just the ask, right? So can you talk and be clear about next steps and it’s there that first meeting leads to ask, right. What do you think about this engaging people in the philanthropic life of the institution over whatever period of time you prescribed?
Tisha: Right. So when I think about the executive director of where’s the girls club here in Washington, part of after she has that first conversation, part of her next steps are, would you like to take a tour of our facility? This is not the next step of so can you give X amount of dollars? Even though we’ve probably all done the wealth engine search, and we know what a donor has a capability to give and using that technology, we really need to have a next step that includes something that takes you closer to an opportunity for a donor to give. So again, whether that is a tour, whether that’s a conversation, would you like to have a conversation with another board member to better understand how we are organizing for the future or how our board works.
Next step could include, can I even send you a presentation that shows you even more details about the work that we do that we couldn’t cover in the 30 or 30 minutes or an hour that we’ve been on a call. I want to allow you to see the next level. Can I introduce you to in the case of the international organization that I work with, can I introduce you to country managers that can tell you more about the work that we’re doing? So getting them more involved in whatever way you can and the work that you do, I think again, creates that organic tie to your fundraising needs and allows them to come alongside you on your mission.
Brickson: Thank you. What makes you most hopeful about the days ahead?
Tisha: This generation of young people, oh my goodness. And I don’t just speak about them because I have a 28-year-old and a 21-year-old who are using their voices in ways that I couldn’t even imagine having the courage to when I was their age to just the living here in DC, my son using his voice feeling compelled to be a part of a movement. I think I have so much hope and the value that they bring, not only to the world but scaling down to the world, to the future of organizations around the world.
Brickson: That’s great. Tisha, such a delight being with you today. Thanks for taking the time with us. It’s so fun to set up with you always, but particularly around this topic for this audience. And so we look forward to having you back for a workshop to guide me a little more [crosstalk 00:54:36].
Tisha: Yeah. I would love to do that. Thank you. And thank you so much, Brickson, you took it easy on me. I appreciate it.
Brickson: Andrew is back.
Andrew Plumley: I am back. What an amazing conversation. Thank you both so much for your insights. So many creative ways to think about this. And I really just, I really appreciate one of the takeaways, which is you have to ask. You really do have to make an ask because people are out there. So I really appreciate your time Tisha and Brickson, and really looking forward to the workshop. As you all know, this has been recorded, so we’ll make sure we follow up with some resources, the recording, and we’ll follow up with next steps around the kind of more granular workshop of really how to think about some more innovative ways for fundraising and relationship building. Thanks all for joining us and we’ll see you next time.
Tisha: Thank you. Thank you so much, everyone.
Andrew Plumley: Thank you.