Joanne Oppelt – NANOE Member & Expert FundraiserJuly 30, 2022
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Vu Le’s Community-Centric Fundraising – Nonprofits Who Get Woke Go Broke explores a new ideology that targets PHILANTHROPIC GIVERS. See below Vu Le’s ten-point manifesto that nationwide and statewide nonprofit associations are propping up as a more enlightened approach to fundraising.
Bishop Redfern II asks the question, “Does Vu Le Hate Donors? Is Community-Centric Fundraising innovative or insipid?” Redfern is the founding chair of National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives. Here’s what this iconic civil rights leader has to share:
Vu Le’s Community-Centric Fundraising – Nonprofits Who Get Woke Go Broke – Bishop Redfern II
Let’s start with the name Community-Centric Fundraising. Sounds fine doesn’t it? Something we could all get behind! When you want to introduce complex ideology makes sure you give it a clever name. What could possibly be wrong with Community-Centric Fundraising? Right? Well…maybe not. Consider the adage, BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING.
How about a definition?
As defined on CCF’s website:
Community-Centric Fundraising is a fundraising model that is grounded in equity and social justice. We prioritize the entire community over individual organizations, foster a sense of belonging and interdependence, present our work not as individual transactions but holistically, and encourage mutual support between nonprofits. ~ Vu Le
If you set aside the word salad (interdependence, holistically, mutual support, etc.) your still stuck with the red flags of equity, social justice, community vs. individual, etc. The discerning reader knows exactly where this headed.
Community-Centric Fundraising vs. Donor-Centric Fundraising
Fundamentally, the CCF movement is an attempt to tear down western civilization by de-positioning Donor-Centric Fundraising (DCF). What does donor-centric mean? In 1776, Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations and inspired charities to share their values with likeminded individuals who could financially support their important work. Smith asserted, when free market’s flourish the invisible hand (of charity) emerges. When a charity’s mission aligns with a donor’s mission relationships are born, trust is built and a transaction occurs. Nonprofit’s who engage in donor-centric fundraising invest in both their “program customers” (who they serve) and their “paying customers” (those who give).
Here’s what Vu, CCF’s architect has to say about donor-centric fundraising:
“I think we have a serious problem with the donor-centered approach. Namely that the pervasiveness of this model in our sector may be perpetuating the very inequity that we are seeking to address as a sector. There is so much language now about treating donors like “heroes” or even “superheroes.” ~ Vu Le
(Thank you in advance for your comments on this post. Please see below.)
Community-Centric Fundraising (CCF) – 10 Principles
You may see some values reflected in CCF’s principles that resonate with you. For instance, on the face of it, the following principle seems to make sense. “#3 Nonprofits are generous with and mutually supportive of one another.”
DO NOT BE DECEIVED! When ideologues undermine civil society they always place a ring in the pig’s snout. Regardless, know this, any CCF principle you deem meritorious has already been woven into the fabric of charity for hundreds of years. Don’t allow window dressing to fool you into thinking that there’s any thing good about Community-Centric Fundraising. CCF’s principles have been intentionally constructed to destroy philanthropy.
CCF 1 – Fundraising must be grounded in race, equity, and social justice.
NANOE says NO! Fundraising IS NOT grounded in race, equity or social justice. NANOE knows that group identity is antithetical to personhood. Furthermore, fundraising, wealth, justice and power SHOULD NOT be viewed through the lens of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Rather, fundraising is rooted in performance that achieves significant impact. Charities, through individual merit, distinguish themselves by providing donors HEROIC MISSIONS OF SCALE that transforms lives so completely donors are inspired to give their best gift.
CCF 2 – Individual organizational missions are not as important as the collective community.
NANOE says NO! The collective community benefits when we grow our own unique mission and build financial capacity accordingly. We support our fellow nonprofits’ fundraising initiatives by placing a high value on free market principles like competition and superior services.
CCF 3 – Nonprofits are generous with and mutually supportive of one another.
NANOE says YES! CCF, when describing this particular principle, provides a 118 word narrative that we also espouse (except when they slap your hand for using the word “competitor”). Regardless, we give CCF no quarter. You don’t get points for saying, “be kind to others” while demolishing the foundations of the charitable sector.
CCF 4 – All who engage in strengthening the community are equally valued, whether volunteer, staff, donor, or board member.
NANOE says NO…THIS IS A RED HERRING! First, what well run nonprofit doesn’t value their staff, board and volunteers? MORE IMPORTANTLY, CCF abhors the idea of nonprofits actually prioritizing donor stewardship. Tragically 90% of nonprofits spend so much time, money and human resources on program services that they neglect their own financial wellbeing. Why? Because, unqualified do-gooders have been inappropriately named “Executive Director” and end up SERVICING problems poorly instead of SOLVING community problems completely. We don’t have a donor-centric fundraising problem in the charitable sector we have a service-centric problem. MONEY IS OXYGEN and our misplaced priorities prevent us from getting the AIR WE NEED TO BREATHE. What’s the result? Children and families suffer when charities fail to secure the revenues they require to save the lives entrusted to their care.
CCF 5 – Time is valued equally as money.
NANOE says NO! This fortune cookie wisdom gets you no where. Here’s a better riddle? What’s the leading indicator of a nonprofit’s ability to scale their mission? Answer: THEY’RE CAPACITY TO ADD PAID STAFF. You see, TIME doesn’t buy staff time MONEY buys staff time. I’ll take one good staff member over 100 unpaid volunteers. The irony is, one good staff member is able to organize and care for 100 unpaid volunteers.
CCF 6 – We treat donors as partners, and this means that we are transparent, and occasionally have difficult conversations.
NANOE says NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Don’t forget CCF hates donors. Why? Because they disdain the free market enterprise principles that make philanthropy possible. Even worse, they claim that wealthy donors are the root cause of all the problems nonprofits have to solve in the first place. This is anti-fundraising rhetoric and will ensure you lose money. See what happens when you force your ideology on a supporter by having a “difficult conversation.” It gets even worse. Community-Centric Fundraising requires nonprofits to confront donors who have a “savior complex” teaching supporters that their superiority is hurting the very people they purport to help. What nonsense! NANOE members have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and have never ever met a financial supporter with a “savior complex”. Ironically, proponents of Community-Centric Fundraising are blinded by their own MESSIANIC HUBRIS.
CCF 7 – We foster a sense of belonging, not othering.
NANOE says NOTHING! Never heard the word “othering” before so I had to rely on CCF’s website to educate me. Here’s what they had to say. “We must be careful to avoid ‘othering’ the people we serve and reinforcing the savior complex. We must use fundraising to ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging.” NANOE does not condone empty accusations made against donors. We will not dignify this silliness with more comment.
CCF 8 – We promote the understanding that everyone (donors, staff, funders, board members, volunteers) personally benefits from engaging in the work of social justice – it’s not just charity and compassion.
NANOE says NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Once again, I literally had no idea how that combination of words could actually be considered a declarative sentence. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Here’s CCF’s actual attempt to make sense of Principle #8. “We must avoid creating a sense of charity or pity among donors toward other community members and instead encourage donors to see how they and their families also benefit from the work they are donating to sustain.” This was quite revelatory. The emptiness of this statement demonstrates that proponents of CCF have never raised any money. If they had, they would know that PERSONAL BENEFIT is the primary reason donors give. Donors pay for the opportunity to participate in the transformation of a people. They spend their money to advance an issue. They purchase a stake in your meaningful cause. Why? Because they know they are better served by giving themselves and their wealth away.
CCF 9 – We see the work of social justice as holistic and transformative, not transactional.
NANOE says NO with a caveat! They came close here but still blew it. Of course I had to go back to their website. Who could possible know what. “as holistic and transformative, not transactional” means? That was a real stumper! Here’s how they expanded on Principle #9. “We are transparent with financial reporting, but whenever possible, will report holistically, not segment out by which donors paid for what. For instance, we should NOT say, ‘Your $1,000 bought books and equipment for 10 kids, and none of your money went to overhead.’ Instead, we should say things like, ‘Your $1,000, combined with the funding from grants and other donors, along with support from volunteers and staff, helped us serve 300 kids this year.'” Ok, that’s fine. We agree that donors are inspired when we share the entire financial picture. But if you read between the lines they could be inferring that donors are so self-absorbed that may be unaware that their funding a well-run organization comprised of professionals, volunteers and vendors. HERE’S WHAT’S WORSE. Even if I give them the benefit of doubt on that run-on sentence NANOE does not see THE WORK OF SOCIAL JUSTICE as holistic and transformative, not transactional. Rather WE SEE THE WORK OF NONPROFITS AS…AS…AS…
…I can’t believe they sucked me in on this one.
CCF 10 – We recognize that healing and liberation requires a commitment to economic justice.
NANOE says WE TOLD YOU SO! CCF hates donors. Here’s how they explained Principle #10. “We also must recognize that healing and liberation requires a commitment to economic justice. This involves fundraisers and donors grappling with and addressing the root causes of inequity, including the destructive effects of capitalism and how we may be complicit in furthering them through our practices.” Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” exists because of prosperity. The United Nations 2021 World Poverty Report states, “Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time. However if we are going to end poverty by 2030, we need much more financial investment to reach the remaining poor. For their sake, we cannot fail.” NANOE is unequivocal in our belief that America’s free-market economic system is the greatest social impact program ever devised in the history of the world despite its horrors and imperfections. NANOE says NO to speaking down to donors as though they are children in need of spanking. See how much money you raise when you disparage the very enterprise that makes your freedom possible.
Simply put, the tenants of Community-Centric Fundraising are empty. They’ve never worked and never will.
Community-Centric Fundraising is not noble. It is at best misguided and at worst a cancer. You see, our future is binary. SOME OF US will be the object of charity via free market enterprise or ALL OF US will be the object of charity via Marxism.
We spoke to Vu back back in 2017. His blog, Nonprofits With Balls, was popular and we invited him, Jimmy LaRose and Dan Palotta to keynote at our inaugural NANOE Board of Governors’ Convention & Expo. Vu was a fun writer. We thought he would make a great speaker.
Vu called and shared, “I won’t be joining you.”
We politely said, “Oh, that’s too bad” and asked, “Why Vu?”
He replied, “I looked you up and can tell that NANOE supports donor-centric fundraising!”
We said, “Oh! Ok? Ahh, what’s wrong with being donor-centric?”
His response took our breath away. Vu replied, “Not until the impoverished, with their pitchforks and torches, gather at the gates of homes of the wealthy will anything change for people in need!”
It may be a coincidence but I couldn’t help but notice Vu launched his Community-Centric Fundraising YouTube channel a few months after our cities began burning in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Was it in this aftermath of destruction that Vu saw his dreams coming true? Am I being hyperbolic? Am I doing bad math?
Decide for yourself. Here’s a screenshot of Vu’s twitter page taken this morning.
(See his “pinned tweet” at the bottom.)
“Burn it all down and let better systems rise from the ashes, unshackled from the bindings of the past!!!”
Vu Le named his so-called better system Community-Centric Fundraising.
I’ve Got Good News
Have you’ve noticed how your State and National Nonprofit Associations have nothing to offer any more? Have you seen their content deteriorate? Now that Gen Z and Millennials are staffing these shops actual nonprofit management and fundraising support has vanished. Performance training has been replaced with an unending series of diversity, equity, inclusion and group identity webinars. Your membership associations have abandoned you for toxic virtue signaling zeitgeist. Don’t despair there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You see, Community-Centric Fundraising DOESN’T WORK AND NEVER WILL. It’s going to go away. It drains your resources, makes you ineffective and will run off your supporters. (By the way, find Vu’s YouTube channel and see whose consuming this nonsense. They’re all children.) HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS. One of two things are about to happen. The marketplace of ideas will reject this fad, the pendulum will swing back and the charitable sector will flourish through the power of free markets OR our the world will fully espouse Marxism ensuring we all live in a perpetual state of poverty.
I titled this article Vu Le’s Community-Centric Fundraising – Nonprofits Who Get Woke Go Broke. The era of woke ideology is failed and must end. I employ you to a take stand. Please ensure your team members rally for your important mission and against this agenda.
Beware of misguided people with manifestos. They attract the wrong followers. Marxists will always be defeated but at much too high a cost.
Thank you in advance for your comments on this post. Please see below.
P.S. Please visit 10 Principles of Community-Centric Fundraising to read Vu Le for yourself.
P.P.S. Vu Le’s Community-Centric Fundraising – Nonprofits Who Get Woke Go Broke is further explored by NANOE Co-Founder Dr. Kathleen Robinson. VISIT HERE for her academic dive into this ideology.
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Vu Le’s Community-Centric Fundraising – Nonprofits Who Get Woke Go Broke was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY
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