As a nonprofit fundraiser you have a constant need to adapt and reexamine how you approach development. Instead of relying on the same old echo chamber and same old conferences where the same people talk about the same things, how about looking outside your own orbit? Where do you get new ideas and find new challenges to the status quo?
Over the last several years I’ve become enamored of TED Talks. Whether you’re driving somewhere, waiting for the subway, or relaxing in your chair after work (okay, maybe those are just me), they’re bite-sized, portable presentations that get you thinking about the the world and how you interact with it.
Some of the speakers are well-known, some less so. But they all have one trait in common: they bring new perspectives and approaches to work, science, art, and community.
There’s even a TED mobile app, so rather than searching YouTube you can call up any topic or speaker quickly and easily. And let’s face it: our company makes a mobile app so I’m probably biased, but I think the TED app is great.
With all that in mind, here are three of my favorite TED talks I think anyone working in nonprofit donations should watch.
What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work? – Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. His TED talks have been watched almost 8 million times, and with good reason.
In this talk about meaning, Ariely addresses our motivations for working and why we may or may not derive a sense of pride in what we do. He relates two stories about psychological studies to make the point that people tend to care about the challenge more than the reward as long as their performance is acknowledged, bringing about what he calls The Meaningful Condition.
It may be a luxury to expect meaning from work. Most people in the world don’t have the opportunity to be emotionally or intellectually fulfilled from their means of making a living. As a nonprofit fundraising professional, you are in the rare position to have your work affect people’s lives in positive ways. When you can directly see the rewards from your efforts, you are more likely to remain motivated and not become burned out.
Forget What You Know – Jacob Barnett
Jacob Barnett has become a worldwide sensation. After being diagnosed as autistic as a toddler, he went from being relegated to special education classes to becoming a recognized leader in astrophysics. In 2012, at age 13, he gave one of the most-watched TEDx Talks of all time (over 2.6 million views and counting).
Using examples including Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, his premise was to stop learning and start thinking. By approaching your chosen field in your own unique way rather than by following existing models, you move on to creating solutions.
Some of the tried-and-true methods of fundraising are great solutions. But what if they could be better? What if you stopped learning how to be a nonprofit fundraiser and started truly thinking about it? You could be the next Ice Bucket Challenge—an approach that had never been tried before.
How To Succeed? Get More Sleep. – Arianna Huffington
Among other accomplishments, Arianna Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post. After fainting from exhaustion and suffering a broken cheekbone, she began to reevaluate the value of sleep. She found that sufficient sleep allows you to be more productive, joyful and inspired.
Sleeping just a few hours a night isn’t a status symbol, it doesn’t show your dedication to your job, cause or life. Sleep deprivation clouds your mind and causes you to make bad decisions. What is good for us as people is what’s best for the world. We have so many great ideas that go untapped because we’re simply too tired to think about them.
Take the extra time to get the sleep your body and mind need. Who knows what your next big idea will be to take your nonprofit to the next level? You owe it to your cause, and you owe it to yourself.
A Few Other Favorites
- The Tribes We Lead – Seth Godin
- Your Elusive Creative Genius – Elizabeth Gilbert
- Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce – Malcolm Gladwell