Media and Money

Big thanks to all who reached out to dialogue about the idea of a nonprofit bank. What I was hoping to do with that post was to suggest a bold alternative to the status quo of our daily commerce, while also challenging colleagues to shake free of the negative self image that cripples the sectors thinking. Both objectives seem to have been met.

I wanted to pass along one cool hit I got from one of my favorite chums in the adventure, Sean Stannard-Stockton. He runs Tactical Philanthopy, and he sent along news of Banca Prossima, a bank in Italy that is 100% dedicated to supporting NGO’s. If you are interested in the idea, check it out….and also dig into the broader Corporate Social Responsibility website to see how seriously our colleagues in Europe take the vision of a “third sector.”Also make a point of checking our Sean’s blog and op-ed’s for the Financial Times….the Brutha is out front.

I also just got an amazing report from UK colleagues in the Office of the Minister for the Third Sector. They just issued a very cool series of reports that digs deep into the concept of funding NGO’s as well as how to measure imapct. It includes a link to the Charity Bank–yet another example of merging commerce and community–please check this out….and remember that the UK and Estonia are the only two countries with a Cabinet level official who is dedicated to facilitating the connection between government, NGO’s and business. Let’s make the US the third to elevate the idea!!!!

And that’s a good segue to another thing I wanted to discuss….press/media. Sean and I were both at a meeting this week, where leaders from across the field were gathered to discuss big thoughts. At a critical juncture in the dialogue, the use of media was raised, and it was quite interesting to see the reactions. Long story short….the group balked at trying to engage the press….for fear that it might retard the process we were engaged in. I took the opposite tact—I think it’s critical that our work (and all nonprofit work) be done in the open, for two reasons.

The first–like our colleagues in business and government have learned, there is no such thing as secret meeting anymore…nor should there be. We live in an open, connected and wired society now—whatever you think you can keep a lid on, you can’t. Stop trying and learn to live with, and embrace, this new culture.Second….our sector is being CRUSHED as I type. If anybody purports to be a leader, and they aren’t willing to stand up and openly discuss where they are going, what they are doing—how they are earning that title…well, then they are really just a boss, and there’s a fat diff between the two.But to make this personnel….people often accuse me of being a media hog—a shameless self promoter. Many think I have some big ass team of folks working the press to insure that we get juicy clips. That’s understandable—given how much ink we get. But he’s the truth. We don’t have anybody working the press. The press comes to us…everyday…because we do two things.

1.We get results. If you chase, and get, results…I guarantee you– both money and media will come to you.

2.We’re not selling DCCK. If the media thinks you just want ink to get your name in the paper, or to raise dough for your program…well, they’ll ignore you every time. We get ink because we’re selling an idea, and DCCK is a manifestation of that idea. It’s never been about us…or me. That’s why we get the ink/airtime we do.

And that’s why I think all of us should all be willing to reach out to the press–WE MUST TELL A NEW STORY. We must quit thinking they are to be avoided…or that by engaging them we are somehow being self promoters, or betraying some sacred, ashes and sack-cloth covenant that says we must be humble servants of society. We must get out front of this economy and talk about our work—sell our ideas—promote our visions…or we will be buried by the inaccurate and frankly, quite idiotic stereotypes that abound about nonprofits. The times are that crucial.

As Hunter S. Thompson said….”when the going get weird, the weird turn pro.”And you can take that to the bank.