Philosophy + Existence

“We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified — how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.”

 —Richard P. Feynman

Popular Posts

Philosophy + Existence

Self-Knowledge

Nonprofits + Fundraising

Philosophy + Existence

The value of together
“The most meaningful experiences in our lives are rarely done by ourselves—or—for ourselves.” – Me in a moment of lucidity. 
Read More
Everything starts with priorities
“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” – Tom Northup We’ve all been to websites that create a meaningful connection. Websites that leave you thinking, “I wish...
Read More
How a Benchmark Study Can Help You Raise Donors
Does seeing what others are doing help you improve your fundraising? We think so. Here’s why we think you should too. There are a lot of voices out there with great ideas on what you should be doing to raise money for your organization.  But how do you know which ideas are working and which ones...
Read More
What We Learned by Giving to 203 Nonprofits
When you give this much online, you learn a lot about what makes a donation page work, and what doesn’t. Here’s what we found by giving to 203 organizations. First of all, it’s not a typo – we did in fact give a gift to 203 organizations!  From February 27 through March 4, 2019, we gave $20 to 203...
Read More
Optimizing Online Fundraising with the Golden Rule
Fundraising can be a complicated industry. But at its heart is a simple rule—the Golden Rule. See how this timeless maxim can help you optimize your online fundraising. You’ve heard it before. The Golden Rule is one of those universal principles that just always rings true. Treat Others How You Want...
Read More
What do nonprofits really have to offer?
Fundraising can sometimes feel like you’re just taking money from people. But you’re really adding so much to people’s lives. You’re offering happiness. If you’re like so many other nonprofit professionals, you joined the team to do something great with your life. You love what you do, and you...
Read More
The No. 1 Mistake Nonprofits Make in Fundraising
Not hitting your fundraising goals? Make sure you’re not making this way too common mistake nonprofits do when fundraising. You work hard. Your team works hard.  You’ve got a mission… Lives are on the line. Foundational principles are on the line. Maybe even the future of our world is at stake....
Read More
How to buy happiness
Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can indeed buy happiness—when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people.
Read More
When to Listen to “the Experts”
There are a lot of “experts” out there trying to help nonprofits raise more money. Who should you listen to and when? With over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone, there is a burgeoning support sector of for-profit services. Just top of mind, I can rattle off about 20: Full-service Fundraising...
Read More
A different path, not the wrong path
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Read More
It's cliché because it's true
I post all kinds of quotes, collected wisdom, and—certainly—quite a few clichés. But my primary desire in all of this is to have a place to document the big and little lessons I want to pass on to my sons.   Every now and then I like to make a list of some essentials.  Here’s what I jotted down...
Read More
Closing the Distance Between You and Your Donors
At the heart of fundraising is a relationship. Not with a dollar, but with a donor. And so the wider the distance between you and your donor, the more difficult and impersonal it will be to ask for help. In the world online fundraising, closing that distance actually means that we need to go beyond digital....
Read More
The currency of kindness
 “Money is but one venue for generosity. Kindness is an even more valuable currency.” —Alan Cohen
Read More
Is Your Giving Page Optimized?
“Build it and they will give” is not a good way to think about online fundraising. Just because you set up your giving page with some text, an image, and a giving form does not mean that donors who come to your site will be motivated to give. Not all giving pages are created equal. Not every giving page...
Read More
Secrets to Improving Giving Page Performance
Giving pages are essential to any online fundraising strategy. Here’s how to take your giving page performance up a notch⁠—or three!   As online giving becomes more and more indispensable among donors, nonprofit organizations have to start paying closer attention to their giving pages. They...
Read More
Crisis Fundraising Done Right
No one likes to do it, but the time will come when you have to do crisis fundraising. Here’s how to raise emergency funds while keeping your donor relationships strong. Crisis fundraising is a tough fact of our existence. Bad things happen to good people. And bad things happen to good organizations....
Read More
Pete Carroll’s three rules for successful teams.
“(1) Always Protect the Team (2) No Whining, No Complaining, No Excuses (3) Be Early” – Pete Carroll
Read More
Pre-filled Forms: The Ultimate Gift for Your Donor
Discover how you can make your giving pages even better for conversions by setting up pre-filled forms on your donation pages with RaiseDonors! Before we get to the tech, let’s start with the philosophy. Raising donors is different than raising money. Of course, by raising donors you will also raise...
Read More
Ranked: the fruits
As the definitive, self-proclaimed Fruit Expert™ of my home, here is my current rankings of fruits.  Mango Avocado (nerd alert, it’s a fruit. 🤓) Nectarine Watermelon Strawberries  Honey-crisp Apple Grapes Orange / Tangerines (tie) Banana Lemons / Limes Tomato (oh yeah… also a fruit SILLY😎) Peach Plumb...
Read More
7 Strange Things People Believe About Online Fundraising [and why they don’t work]
Online fundraising is a powerful way to raise donors for your organization. But if you have the wrong expectations, it just won’t work. I co-founded RaiseDonors because I’ve seen firsthand how online fundraising has transformed the way we give to the causes we care about. This isn’t a fad – it’s here...
Read More
A good outline for any talk or article
Tell a story  Pose a problem   Offer a solution  Show examples Call to action
Read More
Generosity, you're our only hope
“Our only hope lies in the power of our love, generosity, tolerance and understanding and our commitment to making the world a better place for all…” —Muhammad Ali
Read More
Monthly Donor Receipts: Do they help or hurt?
Will sending donation receipts every month cause donors to leave? Today, we look into the real issues behind monthly donor receipts. Our entire lives we’re taught to say thank you as part of having good manners. And when it comes to saying thank you to donors  — it’s no different. In fact, the...
Read More
Be careful of each other
The Mower The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed. It had been in the long grass. I had seen it before, and even fed it, once. Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world Unmendably. Burial was no help: Next morning I got up and it did not. The first day...
Read More
The two educations
“There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” – John Adams
Read More
7 Ways to Show Donor Love
Your nonprofit might exist to serve your beneficiaries. But you’ve got to serve your donors’ interests first. Raise donors before you raise money. Broadly speaking, you can divide nonprofit work into three large categories: Administration, Programs, and Development. Of course, some nonprofit sectors...
Read More
The holy grail of fundraising
It costs more to get a new donor than to keep an existing donor. The holy grail of fundraising is not acquisition—it’s retention. 
Read More
3 Online Fundraising Improvements You can Make in 2019
The new year is here and online giving continues to rise. This new year is the perfect time to step up your online fundraising skills. I don’t know if this is true for you, but there are so many times when I look at the stats in reports like the 2018 Trends in Global Giving Report and forget that these...
Read More
The meaning of fences
“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know what it was put up.” —Robert Frost
Read More
A Christmas toast to family
There’s an old pearl of wisdom that says the reason we have family is so that we learn to spend time with people with whom we would otherwise never spend time with. And while that’s sometimes true, I think it’s also true to say that because of family our lives are deeper, richer, more meaningful—or at...
Read More
The language of kindness
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
Read More
[Checklist] How to Know Your Donation Pages are Ready for Year-End Fundraising
Even with an amazing year-end fundraising strategy, if your year-end giving page isn’t optimized for conversions, you’re going to miss out! So let’s talk about giving page optimization. Online giving is gaining traction, especially during the year-end fundraising season. Philanthropy News Digest reported...
Read More
The religion of kindness
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” —Dalai Lama
Read More
Five Steps to Immediately Transform Your Online Fundraising
Even if your online fundraising efforts are going great, there is always room for improvement! It’s time to smooth out the friction and make it easier for people to donate to your cause. Here are five steps that can bring incredible transformation to your donation experience. Step 1: Identify your...
Read More
How do I build trust with potential online donors?
If you’re reading a blog about online fundraising, there’s a good chance you’ve partaken in some form of corporate team building. One of the most common tropes of such events is the “trust fall”. This is when we turn our backs to our teammates, close our eyes, and fall backwards into their arms. We are...
Read More
How can I increase my online fundraising revenue?
Fortunately, our friends at NextAfter have invested their professional lives into unloading the answer. Allow me to introduce you to the Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization (FCORM). The recipe for online revenue has only three essential ingredients: Web site traffic Donation conversion rate...
Read More
Action > Intention
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” —Oscar Wilde
Read More
Why not just use a PayPal button for my online fundraising?
“To everything (turn, turn, turn) There is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time to every purpose, under heaven” – The Byrds For some organizations, a PayPal button is all that is required. If your organization is in start-up mode, you probably don’t yet have an enormous volume of donors,...
Read More
How do I decrease friction in my online giving process?
I hate answering the phone. In fact, there are three levels of disquiet I experience when my phone rings. DefCon Level 1Someone on my contact list is calling. Perhaps it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a colleague. Either way, as an act of generosity, I let it ring all the way through rather than force it straight...
Read More
How do I know if I’m doing well with my online fundraising?
Like so many things in life, progress is relative. And you can’t measure progress without first knowing where you’ve been. If I were to show you a spreadsheet detailing how much an organization raised over the past year and asked, “How is this organization doing?” — you’d have some questions. And rightly...
Read More
It's a feature, not a bug
“Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of it.” – Ariana Huffington
Read More
The man in the arena
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes...
Read More
Be a person of action
“Well done is better than well said.” – Ben Franklin
Read More
Mortality makes meaning
“Everything we love is about to die, and that is why everything must be summed up, with all the high emotion of farewell, in something so beautiful we shall never forget it.” – Pablo Picasso
Read More
Empathy enables understanding
“You are not your donor. You don’t think like them, you don’t assess value like them, and you don’t make decisions like them. If you (the fundraiser) are not constantly trying to understand and empathize with your donor, then all the other rules do not apply.” – Tim Kachuriak
Read More
The importance of trying
“It is far from easy to be a good man. In fact, as one gets older, it becomes more and more difficult to know what a good man is. Yet it also becomes increasingly important to at least try.” – Rudolph Wegener(Man in the High Castle: “A Way Out”, Season 1, Episode 10.)
Read More
Worry sap
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia
Read More
Know when to say "no"
“Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying no to all but the most crucial features.” – Steve Jobs
Read More
What good have I done today?
Here’s an image of Ben Franklin’s daily schedule.  I love the question, “What good have I done today?” 
Read More
Return on impact
Donors aren’t expecting a return on their investment—but they are expecting a return on impact.
Read More
Enough.
Between mass shootings, gang violence, domestic violence, and suicide—America doesn’t have merely a single gun problem, it has several. But while deaths continue to mount, we see little progress in putting sensible reform around policies that administer access to deadly weapons.   It’s shameful...
Read More
The captain of my soul
Invictus Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance  My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and...
Read More
A Christmas blessing
Love is our greatest treasure. May we celebrate. May we share. May we never tire of doing what is good.  And let us always be thankful for the time we have together.
Read More
Simplicity + clarity = great design
“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.” —Lindon Leader
Read More
Think different, do better
“In big and small ways, we believe people can change the world for the better. And those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.” – Steve Jobs
Read More
The monster inside of US
Donald Trump is a monster.  He brings shame to this country. This isn’t a new or surprising revelation.  This is who he’s always proudly been.  But it’s breathtaking to see the American president in 2017 be so brazenly careless, irresponsible, and bigoted. Unfortunately, President Donald...
Read More
Software as a service, emphasis on the service
The critical “S” to remember in SaaS is the second S. If you provide excellent service and work to build a relationship with your client many issues with the first “S” can be managed. Remember the value prop in SaaS is annuitized income. If your churn is high the investment community will be skeptical...
Read More
The labyrinth is thoroughly known
The Hero Path We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known… we have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination we shall find a God. And where we had thought to slay another...
Read More
This is water
“This is Water” An excerpt from an address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College by the late David Foster Wallace. It takes my breath away with every listen.  If you are curious about the type of living that I pursue and aspire to – this is it. 
Read More
Different answers to the same questions
It’s not always necessary to part company when our answers to the same questions differ.  But we must always be in pursuit of the wisdom to understand the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies.
Read More
You don’t notice privilege until you feel oppression
I didn’t write this, but it’s spot on and wanted to share it: “The reason some white people don’t understand or see how they’re privileged is the very reason they ARE privileged. If you live through the day without thinking about your race, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status, you are privileged...
Read More
Beautiful is being loved—and loving in return
My wife sent me this article today: A Picture My Son Took Changed My Ideas About Body Image   It’s absolutely lovely and powerful.  A powerful line:  “I want (my kids) to think that beautiful is being loved — and loving in return.”
Read More
Affirmation without action is meaningless
Read: I Don’t Discuss Racism With White People  Profound, convicting, and poignant.  I owe these truths more than mere acknowledgment, agreement, or even shame.  It took me a long time to even arrive here—but affirmation without action is meaningless. The world cannot become a better place...
Read More
Shorten the distance
“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” – Victor Borge
Read More
We are all different and that is beautiful
Why are we so quick to see the ugly…when we stand before the beautiful?
Read More
See the good in other people
“Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.” —Roy T. Bennett
Read More
Contribute a verse
Oh me! Oh life! Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle...
Read More
The purpose of business
One of my favorite business quotes from Peter Drucker, who said: “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” – Peter Drucker
Read More
Talking vs doing
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Read More
The reward for conformity
“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” – Rita Mae Brown
Read More
This is my doctrine
“This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself.” – Robert G. Ingersoll
Read More
My favorite Christmas songs, for the record.
🎄 In no particular order…  Blue Christmas I’ll Be Home for Christmas Silver Bells White Christmas Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Silent Night   The Christmas song     Merry Christmas Baby Please Come Home for Christmas The Christmas Waltz And yes… All I Want for Christmas...
Read More
Truly understand something
“If you want truly to understand something, try to change it.” – Kurt Lewin
Read More
The Four Things That Matter Most
In his book, The Four Things That Matter Most, Dr. Ira Byok writes about the four things we need to say to the most important people in our life: “Please forgive me”  “I forgive you”  “Thank you”   “I love you”  Just about the most powerful words we can say to one another. No regrets....
Read More
Late > too late
“There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late.” —Og Mandino
Read More
Give thanks
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
Read More
How to understand
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb
Read More
Giving liberates the soul of the giver
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” —Maya Angelou
Read More
You can always make things worse
“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”  —Randy Pausch
Read More
How we work at Ascendio
Everyone is accountable. We are professionals.   We get things done. If it doesn’t have a deadline, it’s not a project.
Read More
What privilege means
“Privilege does not mean you’re rich, a bad person, have had everything handed to you or have never had challenges or struggles.  Privilege just means there are some challenges and struggles you won’t experience because of who you are.” —from “Why does privilege make people...
Read More
Martin short on organized religion
What role does religion play in your life now? No role. I’m not a big fan of organized religion. It’s caused a lot of despair and prejudice throughout the world. Some people in aspects of organized religion do wonderful work, but overall I’m not a fan. Even at 13 I used to think, “Wait a second, I’m...
Read More
The nine categories
Martin Short has always had a knack for seeing and working to make even low points a positive experience. In 1975, while between acting jobs, he created a nine point checklist that he called the ‘Accountability Checklist.’ Accountability Checklist Self (your weight, any illness, overall health) Immediate...
Read More
Team as a way of life
The beauty—and comedy—of Parks & Recreation was in the striving of flawed people that routinely put aside self-interest to invest in each other and fix a broken culture. These people came to recognize the importance of interdependence—that “team” was more than a way of doing business, but a way of...
Read More
Kindness is strength
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Read More
We are just one model of reality
“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” – Wade Davis
Read More
On apologetics
I spent the better part of a decade obsessed with Christian apologetics. That, by no means, makes me an expert on anything —let alone Christian apologetics. However, now that I’ve broken through to the other side of this conversation—I do have an observation. Apologetics isn’t so much about convincing...
Read More
Everything is a miracle
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Read More
Discomfort and progress
“When you’re accustomed to privilege equality feels like oppression.” – An expression that makes a lot of sense Equality can feel like oppression. But it’s not. What you’re feeling is just the discomfort of losing a little bit of your privilege. Dive into this perspective...
Read More
A start of wisdom
Part 5 of 5 of my deconversion story. “I came to the realization that it wasn’t just the answers that didn’t fit anymore. It was the questions too.” My departure from Evangelical Christianity was my first attempt at finding better answers. How do I know anything at all about God? How do I...
Read More
Left behind
Part 4 of 5 of my deconversion story. “I had transformed God from my loving father in heaven into a subject I could master, into a set of rules I had to follow, into an equation I could solve.” As I started realizing that the god described by the bible, by the church, by pastors, by books,...
Read More
Life in the bubble
Part 3 of 5 of my deconversion story. “I was so afraid of doubt that I never learned to wrestle with mystery.” Straight out of the gates, Christianity offers profound comfort and hope. An all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God who loves you like a father, has a specific plan for your life, and has...
Read More
My journey to faith
Part 2 of 5 of my deconversion story. “I felt the desire for significance and a deeper purpose for who I was becoming.” The journey to earnest faith is very personal. Everyone has specific circumstances that leave them searching for something bigger; something meaningful; something stable. For me—when...
Read More
From faith to wonder
Part 1 of 5 of my deconversion story. “I don’t believe I’m a Christian anymore.”  As the words parted my lips, it felt as if I was standing outside myself. It hadn’t happened in that moment, but it was right then that I recognized just how far my journey had taken me. I was on a path. One paved with...
Read More
The virtue of gratitude
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
Read More
Everything we call life
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world—try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. But life—that’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you...
Read More
RBG is a national treasure
Ruth Bader Ginsburg shuts down gay-marriage challengers
Read More
Be the one
“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally.” – G.K. Chesterton
Read More
The value of worry
“Everything in your life turned out the way it did whether you worried about it or not.” – I don’t know who said it, but I like it. 
Read More
1 2 3 4