Yes, And

When my son was in high school (a long, long time ago), he was in an improve group.  ImprovWhile the humor wasn’t mine, I was always fascinated by the way the group played off each other.  That was because they practiced the the most time-honored principle of improv: “yes and….”  What this means is that those doing a scene together accept whatever their partner says or does and builds upon that.  A big part of yes and means that you must listen—really listen and hear—what the other person is saying or you’ll be out of sync with each other and might end up saying yes and to something your partner didn’t expect. Can you see how this relates to not just to fundraising but to your entire organization?

Too often we are stuck in an old reality.  This is the way we’ve always done it—and doggone, this is the way we will always do it.  Even if it’s not working anymore.

Consider, instead, a new reality—and say yes to opportunities, different ways of approaching problems, and an attitude that says we can (rather than we can’t or don’t—mainly meaning we won’t).

Saying, for example, “my board doesn’t fundraise,” doesn't cut it anymore.  They don’t because they are uncomfortable; don’t know what to do; haven’t been asked.  Look at how they can say Yes to fundraising AND here’s what I can do (with your help!).

Respect fundraisingOften I start board fundraising trainings by asking them what comes to mind when I say fundraising.  Generally, that brings up negative feelings.  So I’m turning that around:  Picture yourself, I instruct, having just asked someone for support for your fabulous organization and they have said YES.  Resoundingly.

What does that yes mean for your organization?

  • More money to do the things that need to get done.
  • The ability to serve more children, adults, animals.
  • The capacity to take advantage of opportunities that will help our organization be stronger

All positive things—things that smack of yes….and from here we can jump to there.

It requires a sea change.  Trust that things can be done.  That your partners won’t drop the ball.  But it can be done.

Bring this attitude to your next staff meeting; the next board meeting.  Ask for thoughts on how to increase fundraising, build efficencies in programming, reach out more effectively.  Ask the next person to say Yes, and…then to build on that idea.  See where it takes you.

And, yes.  It may take you into places that are unreasonable, untenable, ridiculous perhaps.  But even in a bad idea a good thought may linger.  And from those lingering considerations, a new vision just might emerge.


fundraisers-coverJanet Levine helps nonprofits go from mired to inspired--and to increase their fundraising capacity.  Check out her website,  and while there, sign up for the free newsletter.  Most recently, Janet co-authored Compelling Conversations for Fundraisers.  Available at Amazon.  Order now at  And then leave a glowing review!