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«VOLUME EIGHTEEN • NUMBER TW0 VOL. 18 • NO. 2 In memoriam: Celebrating the Life and Work of Todd Douglas Burley, PhD (9 June 1945 – 31 May 2014) ...»

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VOL. 18 • NO. 2

In memoriam:

Celebrating the

Life and Work of

Todd Douglas Burley, PhD

(9 June 1945 – 31 May 2014)


The Moving Field of Gestalt: From the Clinician to the Coach

Susan L. Fischer, PhD

Mary Anne Walk, MA, MBA, MS, MCC

Dialogical Exposure in a Gestalt-Based Treatment

for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Willi Butollo, PhD, Regina Karl, PhD,

Julia König, PhD, & Maria Hagl, PhD

Gestalt Parent Coaching©:

A New Model for Intervening In Family Systems


Harvey Melnick, MS, GCC, PCC Reflections on Coaching

Coaching and Therapy:

Finding Common Ground in Gestalt Practice Nancy Rutkowski, PhD, LSCW, ACSW, GCC, PCC

The Coaching of Age in the Age of Coaching:

What Matters When You Don’t Have All the Time in the World?

Patricia Perry, PsyD, GCC, ACC

The Cycle of Creativity:

Gestalt Coaching and the Creative Process Laurie Fitzpatrick, CPC, GCC, ACC

Sparking Creative Confidence and Action:

A Coach’s (Gestalt) Journey Lisa Hirsh, MEd, CAS, GCC

Linking (Gestalt) Coaching with Philanthropy:

“Where Philanthropy IS More than Money” Penny Harris, CFRE, GCC, ACC Review

The Now for Next in Psychotherapy:

Gestalt Therapy Recounted in Postmodern Society (Margherita Spanguolo Lobb) by Susan Roos, PhD, LCSW In memoriam, Todd Douglas Burley (1945-2014) Liv Estrup, MA, MFT


Gestalt Review, 18(2):183-190, 2014

Linking (Gestalt) Coaching with Philanthropy:

“Where Philanthropy IS more than Money” PENNY HARRIS, CFRE, ACC, GCC ABSTRACT This reflection presents how certain Gestalt principles of the Cape Cod Model©—Strategic and Intimate Interactions, WellDeveloped Competencies/Less Developed Competencies— advanced at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC), along with Beisser’s (1970) notion of “The Paradoxical Theory of Change,” can be used to frame the behavior within the “asking and giving” culture of philanthropy. These principles, in offering opportunities for change, would improve the experience of the “asker” and the “giver.” Philanthropy is more than the money.

A resilient philanthropic culture is generated when people experience the joy and passion of working together in generous support of community.


Making a philanthropic gift today can feel like stepping into a giant system in which money is the only reason for being there. For example, a response to a direct mail letter with a gift soon brings more letters of asking. “Thank you” letters sometimes hold additional requests for money. When a person asks for money and a gift is made, the donor may hear nothing until more money is wanted. It is rare that donors are asked for their perspectives or invited to share in the organization’s successes. People feel alienated from this money-raising system if there is no real experience of being “seen” or valued. Another example: a long-time volunteer leader and donor listed her college as a beneficiary for memorial gifts remembering her father. Gifts ©2014 Gestalt International Study Center


were restricted to a scholarship named for him. Two months after his death, a letter was inappropriately sent to him reporting the name of the student who received the scholarship.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals reported that for every 100 new donors gained in 2011, 107 were lost in 2012. Each year organizations are forced to replace 60% of their donors with new people. This constant pressure to find new donors is real and costly. When faced with a funding need, small to midsize organizations look to philanthropy as the source of funds and often do not consider the resources needed or other impacts of creating philanthropic activities. It is perceived that fundraising can be driven solely by volunteers who ask people for money; inadequate planning is done, and organizational budgets can be hard for a donor to understand.

When faced with “asking and giving,” volunteer leaders and executives of the organization experience a real tension. The reality of asking often gives rise to resistance, and the resulting feeling is: “I hate to ask for money.” Caught between the pressure of needing the money and the vulnerable feelings associated with “asking,” leaders and executives have created processes to protect the emotions of askers and secure the money. The asker focuses on the organization’s need for money to operate and maintain services. The experience and skills required to create authentic relationships have long been underdeveloped. Making donor renewal a goal would strengthen donor relationships, enable needed funding, and give significance to the “asking and giving” process. The not-for-profit organization would benefit from donors who held a deeper understanding of the community need being served. Renewing donors would also develop an understanding of the organization’s program effectiveness and results. The Gestalt approach offers guidance in turning this currently money-focused culture into a communityimpacted, donor-focused culture.

Strategic and Intimate Interactions with a Need for Balance

When an organizational volunteer leader meets with a potential donor, a unique opportunity to build a genuine relationship presents itself. A framework for the interaction can be created if we think of their contact as having strategic and intimate components. S. Nevis, S. Backman, and E.

Nevis (2003) offer definitions for these two kinds of interactions and propose a model for appreciating the differences between them (p. 135). Intimate interactions are those that bring people closer through caring what each person is thinking or feeling. Strategic interactions apply when the goal is to accomplish a specific task; here the intent is to use hierarchical power and be less concerned with equality in the relationship. This model can have meaning PENNY HARRIS 185 for “coaching” the philanthropic interaction between asker and giver, insofar as the latter is a system designed primarily to bring people together to support each other in accomplishing goals. Let us look at certain qualities of strategic and intimate interactions as they might be applied in coaching philanthropy askers to work with greater relational awareness (pp. 141-142 passim).

Strategic Interactions reveal the ability:

• to be focused on the goal without being deflected by emotions, i.e., to ask for money;

• of those on each side of the hierarchical system to be bold in the service of time, i.e., volunteer leaders and staff;

• of all to mobilize energy in the face of possible disappointment, i.e., to experience rejections;

• to share only the information necessary to effect an action, i.e., to focus on getting the money.

Intimate interactions reveal the ability:

• to express interest in another, i.e., to give attention to donor’s interest and expectations;

• to ask questions and give answers to learn more about the other’s thoughts and ideas, i.e., to build trust and connection;

• to suspend the use of hierarchy during the conversation, i.e., to create a sense of “us-ness” (Simon, 2012, p. 297, emphasis added);

• to be open to influencing and being influenced, i.e., to share opinions and experience;

• to have a spontaneous exchange without a definite outcome in mind, i.e., to spend time getting to know each other and sharing stories of the organization’s work;

• to stay focused in the present moment, i.e., the need to listen and be with the potential donor, and not the money.

The primary purpose of the asker and giver relationship is to get a gift.

Donors want to support a mission that is meaningful and connected to them.

That desire is directed to benefit beneficiaries through the programs of the not-for-profit. Learning the impact of their gift becomes a strong incentive for renewing their support. Empathy is necessary for building trust and understanding. When leaders share their experiences and stories, telling why they commit to an organization, the donor-leader relationship begins to feel more authentic. The potential donor feels more comfortable with sharing thoughts and asking questions.

Meetings between volunteer leader and potential donor typically focus on the hierarchical nature of the relationship with more emphasis on the input from the leader who works toward an atmosphere of “us-ness.” Potential donors expect the volunteer leader and executive to mobilize the potential


excitement and energy, so as to create openness and learn what could lead to a gift. For leaders and executives, balancing strategic and intimate interactions comes with hands-on experience. Balance can also be achieved if two askers visit a donor because each person can then take responsibility for a different type of interaction. Balancing strategic and intimate interactions can enable executives, leaders, and donors to share the joy and passion that comes from being generous, caring, and working together for the benefit of people in our communities.

Well-Developed Competencies and Less-Developed Competencies© of Leaders and Executives in Organizations Volunteer leaders and nonprofit executives have an established a process for working together to ask for philanthropic gifts; the ways of doing this work can even become habit-like. The process includes creating a list of people to contact and writing a story about why the money is needed and how it will be used. Potential donors are seen as the sources of money, often called “targets” in the language of fundraising. Askers’ skills are well-developed, without focusing on aspects needed to build real relationships. Consequently, the opportunity for a donor to feel generosity and joy in supporting a community need is lost. Most people can recall a negative experience in being asked to give. The creation of a respectful relationship on the part of askers in order to have the long-term support of donors would involve their discovering and learning skills that are less-developed to accompany those that are already well-developed.

One way to understand Well-Developed Competencies and Less-Developed Competencies© is to look at polarities as found in a range of behaviors (Simon, 2012). Focusing on a well-developed behavior is not so much to indicate existence of a certain behavior, as it is to signal a person’s being limited only to that behavior. For example, interrupting a colleague can be an important skill if the colleague is perceived to be going off track; always interrupting, without ever hearing the other person’s perspective, is a problem (Simon, p. 299). Additional instances of behavior polarities include collaborative/ competitive; flexible/firm; always on time/always late; open to new ideas/ closed to new ideas. Once well-developed skills have been identified and acknowledged, one can begin to build an awareness of less-developed skills.

With respect to philanthropy coaching, such knowledge can enable WellDeveloped Competencies to be balanced with Less-Developed Competencies, thereby creating greater flexibility in building relationships that might motivate financial giving and engage the donor year after year.

Identifying Well-Developed Competencies© in leaders of philanthropy PENNY HARRIS 187 programs is a good place to start. In the process as it has commonly been created, askers tend to have well-developed skills that ensure they can raise money. These skills of asking are so proficient that there is minor awareness of the less-developed skills that might support authentic relationship-building.

The list of selected behaviors used with donors reveals how well-developed “asking” skills can enable awareness of less-developed relationship-building


–  –  –

Volunteer leaders and not-for-profit executives in the USA are successfully raising $300B annually by focusing on the money. Their Well-Developed Competencies©, as listed above, indicate ways in which they support their accomplishment. Since 2004, however, people who give lower and mid-range gifts are saying “no” more often; furthermore, they are not renewing their gifts. Focuing on Less-Developed Competencies© can provide opportunities


for leaders and executives to learn how potential donors may want to impact community needs. Through their gifts, potential donors can participate in meeting real needs like hunger, education, health, etc. Leaders with the welldeveloped skills mentioned above tend to connect donors with organizational needs around money and program costs, instead of connecting them, for example, with feeding and educating people or with supporting health and home issues for those in need. Such experience leaves donors with limited trust, little connection, and almost no knowledge of the impact of their gifts.

The reflection written here is not meant to be critical of volunteer leaders or of executives who effectively raise money for important programs and services.

Rather, it is about changing the “giving” experience into one in which donors would want to renew gifts; that means adjusting current “asking” practices.

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