About Jim Lord
Some 40 years ago, I started out as a consultant on capital campaigns, the youngest consultant for the oldest (and largest) firm.
Even early on, I sought to put the raising of money into a much larger context of facilitating personal initiative. That’s allowed me to see the noble and profound nature of this endeavor.
I’ve also sought to contribute to the field’s professional literature, its intellectual capital. In 1983, I wrote The Raising of Money as an “executive summary” for board members, so development professionals could find support for the proven practices and principles of raising large money.
What a surprise hit the “little blue book” turned out to be. (Click here for more about it — and its recent update.)
Yet most who’ve come to the world of philanthropy in the last decade don’t even know it exists. (Keep reading, there’s a reason for that.)
Even less known these days is my first book, Philanthropy and Marketing. When it was published in 1980, it was widely recognized as the pioneering work on the application of marketing principles to fundraising. It catalyzed the field’s transition from a “selling” to a marketing mode, in which listening to donors becomes central.
While it was pioneering work at the time (and still good stuff, if I do say so myself) it’s been surpassed by The Philanthropic Quest. That’s as it should be, of course … I have learned a thing or two over the years.
By the way, the same year I wrote Philanthropy and Marketing, I served on the team of subject matter experts that developed the first certification exam in the field, for the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (now renamed the Association of Fundraising Professionals).
With all that going for me, my practice hummed along nicely. I enjoyed a rewarding mix of speaking, teaching, writing, and consulting … and had the privilege of advancing causes and communities, large and small, all over the world.
Then one day, I found myself introduced at the International Congress on Philanthropy in Miami as “the world’s greatest expert on raising money.”
That’s cool. But if it were true — and with the confidence hearing such a thing inspires — would I want to tackle something even larger?
You see, I’m fascinated by questions about why people invest in a cause. Why they invest themselves.
I’m a curious person (pun intended). Always learning, questioning assumptions, looking for fresh ideas. (Always asking: How do we know this?)
So I quit my practice, pulled forward on the adventure of a lifetime. I went on a search for the “secret” that would turn “impossible” big ideas into simple actions. Breakthroughs.
During that decade-plus, I explored widely, working side-by-side with global thought leaders in social psychology, personal and organization development, and more. David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney in Appreciative Inquiry … Carolyn Lukensmeyer and John Carter in Gestalt … Len Hirsch and Jane Watkins at NTL … Carol Pearson, Ken Gergen, Jay Hughes … and many more.
And I stayed away from conferences and invitations to speak, meeting only with those who came to my private, by-invitation think tanks and workshops.
If my reclusiveness seems odd, let me explain …
We’re all influenced by who we hang out with. I wanted my thinking to be clear and undiluted by what others were talking about in the fundraising world.
I wanted vivid thoughts to lead to a fresh voice, still grounded in what I knew from my years of experience.
And in contrast to “putting out” at keynotes, the workshop format let me “take in,” learning more every time.
All of that has brought me to where I am today, back in the thick of things in the world of philanthropy. Every morning I get up more excited and engaged than ever, even as I watch many of my colleagues slow down and edge into retirement.