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Tip #62 Striking a Chord with Empathy


On March 25th we’re holding a webinar featuring Lauren Wisniewski, a Lilly School of Philanthropy graduate, nonprofit pro, and expert in lean practices. Her topic is unique… It’s an exploration of how lean practices and strong management (things we do to stay/become efficient) should actually be rooted in empathy. Normally, the registrations for a webinar like this would not peak for another week or two (you all love to sign up last minute). This one, however, has already surpassed the 250 mark. I cannot help but wonder if the draw to this topic is the word empathy.

It caught my attention about five or six years ago…the coldness with which the sector could treat its own. We lavish grace and compassion on those we serve as if it’s our calling, but in the fierce pursuit of our missions and passions, we often withhold these better virtues from our peers. We’re a critical bunch…ready to hold each other accountable, assign motives, and if a motive is already present, we’re sure to question it. While we work diligently to ensure no one in our care feels left behind or rejected, we regularly turn our backs on those who stumble while working by our side or make a mistake we believe we could never make.

I once thought this was something I was feeling alone, however, time after time I have heard many fellow cause workers describe incredible hurts at the hands, mouths, or sharply turned backs of their organizations, boards, or sector coworkers.

We need more empathy…for each other.

I don’t have a solution…Of course, the Golden Rule comes to mind, but a rule is only as effective as our adherence to it. I do wonder if we’re all feeling the same ache though. Perhaps, if we recognize it, we can do better.

Obviously, I’ve gone far off course from a fundraising tip this week. To bring this back around, consider this: We’re three degrees of separation away from each other. And that stat is from back in 2016. It may be less now. The way we interact with those closest to us fans out to our prospective donors, our communities and those we serve whether we intend it to or not. How we behave behind the closed doors of our offices, board meetings, email inboxes, or Slack channels becomes the brand inside our organization. Let’s make sure it’s representative of the good we hope to be known for.

Katie Appold

Katie Appold, MPA
Executive Director | DO MORE GOOD

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