Sinek, Falcons, White Fragility, Gala Events, and More!

Sinek, Falcons, White Fragility, Gala Events, and More!


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


I have several unrelated thoughts for you this week, none of which warrant an entire blog by themselves. Love to hear your thoughts!


Great Video

Simon Sinek has a new video interview on Millennials that is well worth the sixteen minutes it will take you to view it. Grab a cup of coffee and view it on your break.

This Is Why You Don’t Succeed – Simon Sinek on The Millennial Generation


And here’s a video that might be among the best organizational videos I’ve seen. In fewer than four minutes, without jargon, and using only a few voices, this video serves to connect people with nature, appropriately thank an important corporate sponsor, and tell an important story about why people should support the work they do.

The Quiet Ones


And finally, my son shared a video with me about using falcons to manage nuisance birds on cropland. Love it. (4:30 minutes)

A Master Falconer Shows How His Bird Protects Valuable U.S. Crops


Three Words for 2020

For those of you new to this idea, blogger Chris Brogan started using a concept of three theme words instead of a New Year’s Resolution some years ago, Five years ago, I picked it up and I still like it a lot. My three words for 2020 are now posted on the board in my office.

For a fuller explanation, here’s Brogan’s post: My Three Words for 2020.

My three words 2020 are: Less. Core. Open.

Less: By this time next year, I need to weigh less, and I intentionally mean less body weight. But I also mean less life weight. Less stress. Less clutter. Less stuff that is essentially meaningLESS. Because I fundamentally believe that most of this excess stuff is getting in the way of things that really matter. That by shedding stuff, I will also be making room for More of what matters.

Core: This was a word I used two years ago, and I need to bring it back in 2020. Core as in fundamental, basic, foundational. It seems to me that as we each chase our own versions of bright shiny objects, what we need to do more of is return to core. Our core mission, our core discipline, the core practices that raise money most sustainably and reliably. It’s not always sexy, but it is our primary source of real strength. This year, I want to strengthen my core.

Open: As in open mind and open heart. As in open being opposite of protective. I keep thinking about Robin DiAngelo’s challenge toward the end of her book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. She asks each of us to spend the rest of our lives working to understand how many little ways we are each part of the problem. Also open as in generous with attention, time, and perspective.

What would your three words be this year?


An AHA moment about GALA Events

I’ve often been critical of big fundraising events because of their inherent opportunity cost. They tend to attract businesses who like to sponsor events that help bring them positive publicity and people who like to go to parties. They also tend to be all consuming for the organization over a period of months. And the net return on that investment is arguably much lower than it would be if the organization had invested that same time and energy in major gift development. In fact, in many cases, the gala event IS the organization’s major gift development program.

So here was the insight I had recently while working on a Development Audit with a client. If we consider the needs of our twenty percent who give 80 percent, and ask how we should best cultivate their long-term interest in the land trust, we might prioritize creating opportunities for them to visit projects and see the land personally. We might think about small events, such as house parties hosted by someone they know and respect. Or one-on-ones with the Executive Director over lunch or coffee. We probably wouldn’t say, “you know, the best way to cultivate this donor is by hosting a Gala with a live auction and 300 people.”

In fact, we often do exactly the opposite. We say “Let’s do a Gala with a live auction and 300 people,” and then ask how we can best use the event to cultivate major gift prospects.


Cheers, and have a great week!




Photo by Colby Thomas from


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  • David Allen
    Posted at 14:24h, 21 January

    Another from my In-Box…..

    Love your recent post on 3 words…hummmmm
    1. Core -borrowed from you-strengthen core programs
    2. Recharge-find ways to personally recharge and offer opportunities to staff as well
    3. Travel-enjoy our world and learn -bring back ideas to improve our big backyard

    THANK YOU for sharing. Anyone else?


  • David Allen
    Posted at 09:53h, 21 January

    From my In-Box this morning…..

    A comment on the Millennial video:

    The final words: “It’s the right thing to do.” I say, pay Millennials more than you think they need.

    As a generation, we need to be PAID because student debt has so many of us starting out with less than nothing. While I dislike some subtext of this video; that we are dealt a bad hand and need to be babied; it’s true that we are different animals. Unless the ‘rents paid the way debt means that we have to work harder to get to the same norms that were financially possible to the previous generations. Buying a house, affording car payments and God forbid having a kid seems like a financial daydream to Millennials – a goal, not an assumption.

    My job is good on this. However, it should be like that off-the-bat for Millennials entering any work force, especially the younger ones.

    That video has me thinking about when I was an unpaid intern and I had NO money, a nearly empty gas tank, and no lunch. On my last day of the internship my pride and required school-work had me go in. That day I ate a warm Nature’s Valley granola bar for lunch in my hot car in the parking lot…crying. To this day I can’t stand to eat them anymore.

    Years later, I can’t tell you how many of my college educated friends work multiple part-time jobs or are underpaid in full time ones and still struggle to stay afloat.

    Pay Millennials more than you think they need. It’s the right thing to do.

    A TED talk from an Elder Millennial looking out for the younger ones.