Jimmy LaRose & NANOE, “Let’s Agree to Disagree” is Jim Eskin’s take on Jimmy LaRose and his unconventional approach to nonprofit leadership.
Do Jimmy LaRose and I agree on everything? Hardly. We can’t even agree on first names.
We’ve had several hours of phone conversations and e-mail exchanges, and there are numerous topics and issues we simply disagree on.
But what I admire about Jimmy is that no matter what our differences are on various nonprofit management and fundraising issues, it’s never personal to him and he refuses to let the disagreements get in the way of our friendship, our collaborations, and particularly, mutual respect for one another.
Another quality I truly admire about Jimmy is his unabashedly firm commitment to being a truth teller. He’s not interested in winning nonprofit popularity contests. He is devoted to sharing the theories, beliefs and best practices that he’s learned over a remarkable career to strengthen the nonprofit sector.
He has espoused several contrarian ideas such as paying board members, hiring powerful CEOs, and consolidation among nonprofits sharing mission space.
Jimmy and I have known each other and collaborated in various ways such as writing projects for about five years.
It started when I wrote a brief profile about him in my monthly newsletter, Stratagems. It was far from a fluff piece, but he went out of the way to thank me for the work I put into it.
He sent me a copy of his book, Re-Imagining Philanthropy. It does a beautiful job of reflecting his gritty philosophy, especially the emphasis on making sure that every penny and every hour donated to the nonprofit sector achieves the strongest possible return. He doesn’t like waste and redundancy. He is also the co-founder of National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (NANOE).
Since launching Eskin Fundraising Training in 2018, I have repeatedly emphasized that most nonprofit leaders are afraid of asking for gifts for their favorite causes because they really haven’t experienced a genuine solicitation for themselves. This is a fear of the unknown.
Through more than 150 workshops and webinars, my job has been to demystify the art and science of fundraising for professional and volunteer non-profit leaders.
My wife Andrea and I have witnessed on numerous occasions nonprofit leaders who said they could never ask for gifts replace fear with confidence and comfort as they became productive fundraisers.
Jimmy LaRose & NANOE are not proponents of board and volunteer fundraising. Our viewpoints on this subject are different.
But over the last several years he has invited and published numerous guest articles and blogs on his websites and advocating my perspective on the art and science of fundraising that can be taught, practiced and learned.
In other words, he has been happy to publish someone like me who shares very different viewpoints. I see that as a marvelous part of his character, courage and wisdom as a leader.
Frankly, I think the nonprofit sector will benefit from more honest and frank debate, and a respectful exchange of differing viewpoints. Time after time, we are learning that there is no single, perfect way to do things.
Quite the opposite, we can grow and learn from those who think differently. It’s dangerous when leaders believe there is only one path to follow.
I proudly refer to my webinar audience as a learning community of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders. No one (that certainly includes me) has all the answers. During our hour-long Zoom webinars, we encourage audience members to come on camera and openly share questions and experiences, and to challenge what they’ve heard from subject matter experts who join me in making presentations.
The facts speak for themselves: A record $471 billion was donated by Americans in 2020 from bequests, corporations, foundations, and mostly from individuals. When you combine giving from individuals, bequests and family foundations, the giving slice rises to a whopping 87%.
American philanthropy didn’t fall apart. In fact, being open to change and innovation has strengthened our sector in timely ways.
Did we all agree on these new ways of doing our business? Certainly not. But most importantly we were open to debate about the advantages and disadvantages of varying approaches.
All of this brings us back to Jimmy LaRose, who has been challenging the status quo and prompting the nonprofit sector to consider new and better ways of conducting its business for decades before the pandemic hit.
Jimmy understands that not everyone will always agree with him. I don’t agree with him on every issue. But I totally respect his commitment to healthy debates, listening to those who might disagree with him, and always putting serving the mission and impacting societal change ahead of personalities.
I believe our nonprofit organizations will be best served by the Jimmy LaRose leadership model. Be honest with yourself, respectful of others, and keep your eye on the prize of doing the best possible job of promoting good works.
Jimmy LaRose & NANOE, “Let’s Agree to Disagree” was posted at Eskin Fundraising Training
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Author: Jim Eskin’s leadership roles span more than 30 years in fundraising, public affairs and communications in the San Antonio area. During his career, he established records for gifts from individuals at three South Texas institutions of higher learning. He enjoys training non-profit boards on fundraising best practices and overcoming the fear of asking for gifts. His consulting practice Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his fundraising workshops and provides the training, coaching and support services that non-profits need to compete for and secure private gifts. He has authored more than 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers and business journals across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which was recently released and can be purchased here.