Kim Klein

Kim Klein

OMG I am so excited! Kim Klein, my first fundraising heroine, has answered my interview questions!

For those of you not in the know, Kim Klein is Capital I INCREDIBLE. I first heard her speak in winter of 2007, and was completely blown away by her ease, the way she clearly communicated her information, and how easy she made fundraising sound! Since then I’ve read books she’s written and edited, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them all, especially “GIFT, the Best of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal”. I also comment on her blog, because I love how it makes me think.

Who is Kim Klein?: Kim Klein is the founder and former publisher of the bimonthly Grassroots Fundraising Journal, which celebrated its 25th birthday in 2006. She is the Chardon Press Series Editor at Jossey-Bass Publishers, which publishes and distributes materials that help to build a stronger nonprofit sector. She is also the author of Fundraising for Social Change, Fundraising for the Long Haul, Fundraising in Times of Crisis, Ask and You Shall Receive: A Fundraising Training Program for Religious Organizations or Projects, and Raise More Money, which she edited with her partner, Stephanie Roth. She is the featured writer for the e-newsletter of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, with her column of answers to questions posed by readers called “Dear Kim.” Widely in demand as a speaker, Kim Klein has provided training and consultation in all 50 of the United States and in 21 countries. She has just returned from Montreal, where she was an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University, working at the Institute in Management and Community Development. Contact Ms. Klein at kim@kleinandroth.com

You should hire her to speak for you, fundraise for you, write for you, and read her blog and buy her many books. All are so good! She has the tools and expertise you need. And she’s an inspiring speaker.

How did you get started writing and editing fundraising books?

I saw that there was a dearth of information for organizations with budgets under $1 million and for organizations working for social justice. There was plenty of stuff for universities, hospitals and larger institutions. Yet, there was a large oral tradition about fundraising, so I just started writing things down that I saw and trying to make a coherent frame out of all the experience people had.

What kind of people should read your new book, “Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times”?

People who are familiar with some fundraising principles and are wondering what else they can do; organizations who are experiencing some kind of crisis right now and want to get through it, and people who want to build a broad base of individual donors and have already have some infrastructure in place but want to go to the next level.

What’s one idea from the book that you think nonprofit leaders should take action from in particular?

We have to work together, across all our different sectors of education, health care, environment, and so on. We must develop an identify as a “Sector” and advocate for ourselves, which should mean advocating for the common good. Further all organizations need to see that pressuring government to create revenue solutions to budget problems is imperative: in other words all nonprofits need to work on fair and just tax policy.

Tell me about your book in process. Why is it so important for nonprofits to get involved in tax policy?

Nonprofits are the institutions most affected by budget cuts, and the people we serve suffer from cuts in federal, state and local programs. Yet most nonprofits simply try to do more and more with less and less, instead of saying, “Some things must be funded publicly, by taxes.” Adam Smith said, “The purpose of taxes is to remedy inequality as much as possible,” and certainly that should be a purpose of the nonprofit sector as well. When we don’t advocate for fair taxes, we say to the right wing, “You were right, we could do this with less money” but we can’t and working harder and harder is not going to solve our problems.

What books do you wish you could see out there on the bookshelves?

I’d love to see more reflection on what all nonprofits should do to address racism, sexism and militarism.

Amen to that. What sort of response have you been seeing to your blog?

People seem to like it and a lot of people read it, tweet about it, and mention it to me. I think we just need way more readers.

OK readers of this blog, add them to your RSS feed! Do you blog for a purpose?

I hope so. I blog to promote the ideas of the commons: the notion that our most valuable assets are what we don’t own, such as water, air, rights, etc. We must protect, enhance and in some cases, repair, our commons and pass them on undiminished to the next generation.

What do you think makes a successful fundraising career?

Understanding that money is simply a tool and it is a tool we all need to do our work. Time is actually our most precious non-renewable resource, and money helps us use our time more effectively. Successful fundraisers are also people of great commitment to the nonprofit sector and people willing to take a long view of what works and doesn’t.

Who do you admire? Who is a hero or heroine of yours?

I suppose all the usual suspects: Mary McLeod Bethune, Sojourner Truth, Peter Maurin, Mahatma Gandhi. I also admire ordinary people who have flaws and overcome them to do great things.

What causes do you wish that more foundations would make a priority?

Foundations have so little money that I don’t think about them very much.

What major gift asks were most difficult for you, and why?

The requests that are hard are when the donor has an agenda also. I remember a donor asking me if her son could sit on the board, and another donor asking if our organization would agree to not oppose a problematic housing development. I had to learn to be clear that no amount of money was worth the organization’s integrity. The other kinds of solicitations that are hard are the ones where the donor is equivocal, won’t say yes and wont say no, tells you to get back to them a hundred times. People have to learn to be direct.

Thank you so much Ms. Klein. You’ve really opened my eyes about foundations. I am so grateful to you for taking the time to do this interview.