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an education journey for your donors with Aneil Gokhale

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Are your donors on the same page as your organization when it comes to understanding the work? Often, we think that there is this great divide between us and our donors - one that is not easily bridged. But Aneil Gokhale at The Toronto Foundation has been creating programs for donors to go on a learning journey to better understand how they can change how they give to align with their values.

What might be considered risky - engaging your donors in conversations about justice, equity and a redistribution of funds - has turned into a very successful fundraising campaign and community building initiative.

Myths that Aneil wants us to walk away from:

  • Younger generations don’t give. In fact, younger generations often are excited to give but want a little more than just writing a cheque. They want to learn, be involved, and stay engaged. Think of how you can create a community of supporters and bring them along on a learning journey.

  • We have to tiptoe around tough topics with our donors. It can be hard to challenge your donors beliefs around philanthropy, but definitely not impossible. Aneil has leaned on research their organization does as well as understanding the intentions of donors and their values, to broach topics of privilege and power, as well as funding organizations that have historically been underserved by philanthropy.

Aneil’s thoughts around bring your donors on a learning journey.

  • You don’t have to be big or well resourced to bring your donors on a learning journey. Now is the time to have important conversations about equity. The world is going through changes and the status quo is being challenged. Your donors want to align their giving with their values but might not know how. Your donors also see you as the expert, so share your knowledge and experience.

  • Let your experts lead the way. The Toronto Foundation ensured that their new equity priorities were driven by populations they wanted to serve and support. Remember that you are the experts and your donors want to learn from you.

  • Now is the time to ask! Younger generations care and they want to be engaged in philanthropy. They expect to be focused on justice and equity and they want to be involved. Your donors are likely committed to their community and feel connected to the work they support.

Favourite Quotes from Today’s Episode

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“I think about a lot of our peers and a lot of the work that we do in fundraising, we've kind of been trained to go where the money is and go where people tell us to go and go where our volunteers connect the dots, et cetera. But if all our volunteers and all of our board members and all of our donors look the same and act the same and are in the same socioeconomic brackets, then it's going to be a whole lot of the same. We really just wanted to turn that on its head a little bit, or maybe a lot actually.”

“It was this idea of actually building out a learning journey and taking your donors on an experience where they're giving more than just that sum of money, but they're actually going out there and they are learning a ton of things about this topic that they care deeply about. So we basically took that concept and created a learning journey here in Toronto, focused on resilience, focused on really just trying to make people understand what the needs were in our community and really trying to underscore how they could make a difference and make an impact.”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership:

Toronto Foundation:

Aneil on Twitter:

Email Aneil: