News & Articles

This month we’re reading …

A Second Chance: For You, For Me, And For The Rest Of Us

By Catherine Hoke


“What if you were only ever known for the worst things you’ve ever done?”

Catherine Hoke founded not-for-profit Defy Ventures, an organisation that transforms the lives of people in the US prison system.

The story is a fundraising call to action to do something about mass incarceration in the US. They have almost 25% of the world’s prisoners yet only 5% of the world’s population.

Imprisoned men and woman are some of the most marginalised people in our society. But Catherine’s ability to tell their stories and to build empathy and hope for their future is a storytelling triumph.

And that’s why we recommend this book to you. As a fundraiser you are tasked with the role of creating a storytelling culture within your charity – and telling the stories that raise money and awareness.

This book is a very good example of how to do just that.

It’s full of individual stories of Defy’s beneficiaries (current and ex-prisoners). In each story we see the problem, the need, and the change that happens to the beneficiary when the donor gives.

Catherine has a great ability to bring the donor/reader right into the story: “Imagine that you … why would you believe … maybe you can relate … I’m guessing that you too …my hope is that you …”

And she reminds us repetitively of just how her cause is closely connected with her donors’ values … “for everything you have done, don’t you deserve a second chance? Don’t we all?”

A Second Chance then ends with one of the most important ways that a donor can be part of the future of this amazing charity – make a $500 donation to provide a scholarship for a prisoner to undertake the Defy program.

Engaging storytelling!


The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and Wow

By Joseph Michelli


It goes like this …

  • Pay brand-new employees $2,000 to quit.
  • Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company – not just a department.
  • Focus on company culture as the no.1 priority.
  • Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business.
  • Help employees grow-both personally and professionally.
  • Seek to change the world …

… Oh, and make money too.

Sound crazy? It’s all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that’s doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, driven primarily by 75% repeat customers and word of mouth. And almost no advertising.

So why is this relevant to fundraisers?

At Zappos, the tagline is “powered by service” and their different way of thinking is powering one of the strongest customer service engines in today’s global marketplace.

The Zappos lessons are applicable not just to the commercial sector, but to not-for-profits too – and to the personal and professional development of people at every level of any organisation.

As they say at Zappos … when you commit to the customer experience, increase employee engagement and create an energetic culture you can’t help but succeed.

The Zappos Experience outlines how they did it. And how they have become a model for other business leaders trying to move toward a culture of customer service.

It may not be the right path for every organisation, but if you’re looking for inspiration as to how to create a much-loved, trustworthy and customer-driven organisation, then this is the book for you.


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