Saturday, June 19, 2010

$41 trillion in wealth transfer. Getting a Share.

I've been leading a non profit for 20 years. I'm tired of constantly searching for scarce dollars. I want to find ways to change the way we're funded.

So, when I read about $41 trillion in wealth being transferred over the next half century, with at least $6 trillion being allocated to charity, I want to find a way that my organization, and other tutor/mentor programs, get a fair share.

I've learned to tell the tutor/mentor story every day, in many ways, so that we find the donors we need to keep Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connections in business.

However, this is not something others are used to doing. In many organizations, and businesses, the sales team, who generates revenue, is separated from the operations team, who spends the money.

In a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, the people managing the volunteers are not always the people responsible for raising the money. However, I believe it is absolutely essential that these roles be blended.

Why? I've just read a chapter of a book titled Death and Dollars. The chapter I read it titled How do People Leave Bequests: Family or Philanthropic Organization? It was written by Paul G. Schervish and John J. Havens.

The first part of this chapter suggests that "self-identification with others in their needs (rather than selflessness) motivates transfers to individuals and to philanthropic organizations and leads givers to derive satisfaction from those needs"

Furthermore, "identification with others develops and is applied primarily through networks of association that bring donors into contact with potential recipients".

Thus, the volunteer who becomes part of a tutor/mentor program, is beginning to form an association with that organization. If that relationship is sustained, and nurtured, and retained over many years, the organization is building a network of future benefactors.
This graphic is the first screen of an animated presentation done for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, by Li Li, an intern from the University of Michigan.

This illustrates that the support given to volunteers, so they are effective, satisfied, tutors/mentors, leads to their growth as an advocate for the youth, and the organization, if sustained for many years.

Thus, to anyone leading a tutor/mentor program, the strategies you use to recruit and train volunteers, can also be strategies to capture a share of this future wealth transfer, ensuring that you have the operating dollars essential for supporting the involvement of other volunteers in the future.

While this is a strategy at Cabrini Connections, we only have 100 volunteers involved each year. There are at least 100 other tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region that have between 50 and 100 or more volunteers each. If all of those programs were thinking the same way, and linking to each other, we would be coaching a pool of 5000 to 10,000 volunteers each year. If this were happening in 100 cities across the country, we would be mentoring the growth of over 1 million volunteers each year.

Why is this so important? We cannot operate effective, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs with the small pools of inconsistent funding that are available to us from the current donor population and/or from public dollars. Inconsistent revenue means that we cannot attract and keep high-quality leaders, who are the glue that keeps kids and volunteers involved. We cannot do the data management, learning and network-building that keeps us connected to our students and volunteers beyond the years they are active in a program. We cannot be connected to our peers the way we need to be.

And this means that we will not have the impact on youth aspirations and attitudes and learning habits, that is so essential to feed the 21st century economy with skilled, knowledge-centered, workers and informed citizens.

I hope that you'll take time to read these articles, and look at the previous blog articles I've posted related to leadership, network building, collaboration, etc. and think of ways your actions, or your organization, can combine with actions of many other people, so volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs earn a share of this $41 trillion dollar wealth transfer.

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