On Friday night, I attended the DVF Awards at the United Nations, marking one year exactly since friends, family, and She’s the First supporters rallied the votes for me to win the People’s Voice Award, a $50,000 grant from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation. We’ve grown tremendously in the last year. Diane even blogged about it on The Huffington Post!
I wanted to share three personal details from the DVF Awards with you, because in them I see the unstoppable power of She’s the First.
When you look at these photos, you might think those three are: Alicia, Diane, Gloria (!!!) Being up close with such legendary women and telling them about She’s the First again was absolutely remarkable. But let’s go even deeper than that.
In the photo below, you see 13 people who look pretty happy to be around each other, like they’re old friends. In truth, they only met that night, all willing to be part of a social experiment: A Jeffersonian Dinner.
Is there a new group of stakeholders that you’re trying to bring your message to, but you aren’t sure how? Are you trying to open new streams of funding, but find that it’s hard to initiate those relationships via cold emailing? If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you said YES to both these questions. I would bet a Jeffersonian Dinner is a solution that can help you.
What is it?
A Jeffersonian Dinner is a dinner party with a twist, based on a historic tradition of Thomas Jefferson, who would invite fascinating individuals to his home to stimulate important conversation. He knew the intimate setting could spark these engaged citizens to collaborate with one another. Jeffersonian Dinners have been revitalized lately by philanthropist Jeffrey Walker, who wrote one of my favorite books on fundraising (The Generosity Network, co-authored with Jennifer McCrea) and gave a TED Talk on the subject. (I’ll embed it at the bottom)
How do I host one?
When I signed up for the authors’ newsletter on thegenerositynetwork.com, I received a guide to hosting a Jeffersonian Dinner by email. Go ahead, do it right now.
Ok, are you back? These were my obstacles: (1) Where do I find an elegant but affordable private room to host this dinner, and (2) how can I reach a crowd, older than I am, looking to invest in girls’ education but unsure exactly how to do it? I knew I had a great relationship-building idea in my hands, but clearly I couldn’t do this alone–I needed a co-host to get She’s the First in front of game-changers.
How our Jeffersonian Dinner came to be:
I am a huge advocate for bringing your social media connections to life offline. So I turned to a new LinkedIn contact of mine, Peter McCrea, who works at the American Endowment Foundation. I forwarded him my guide on Jeffersonian Dinners and asked if he’d help bring the right people to the table to talk about the power of education.
Peter said yes! This idea was aligned with his goals to build community around transformational giving. He knew the perfect restaurant to host, Fiorini, and generously covered the down payment for us. He even used his industry cred to email Jeff Walker and tell him we planned to answer his call to action, and he invited him to our dinner. While Jeff couldn’t attend, he recommended a non-profit leader in NYC very aligned with She’s the First — Kara Nicholas of Connect To Learn, whom I hadn’t known. Another connection was born.
Read on to see how this all unfolded:
When I was a kid, my mom would remind me, “Did you write Aunt Marion a thank you note yet?” Aunt Marion was my great aunt who lived in Maine. She sent my sister and I cards for our birthdays each year with $5 tucked inside. Even though it was the smallest birthday gift I received, my parents taught me to acknowledge it in the same way I did the bigger gifts.
Whether they intended to or not, my parents and Aunt Marion taught me what I believe is one of the greatest secrets to success:
Recognize small supportive gestures as much as you do the great ones.
One of my mentors, Susan McPherson, sent me a tweet that reminded me of how this factors into my fundraising career now:
To think of it another way: When you get a job interview, let’s assume you know well enough to write your interviewer a thank you note after. Did you also write a note to the person who got your foot in the door? If you’re fundraising and you score a new sponsorship, did you send a note to, or call, the person who was the catalyst for it all? (more…)
The editors at Fast Company invited me to be part of their Most Creative People in Business 1000, which just launched online and is inside this month’s issue. I’m pumped! Here’s why:
The “MCP 1000,” as they call it, gives me the tremendous opportunity to channel our messages and insights straight up to the magazine editors. I’ll also be crowdsourced for trend and news pieces, a chance to show how young leaders are advancing girls’ access to education every day.
What I love most about the MCP 1000 is our common belief that change happens through community. That’s why Fast Company didn’t just publish a list of leaders they think are creative–they are also creating events to bring us together. (more…)
You may have heard the expression: You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak. I used to live by this.
As a shy student reporter from 2001-2007, I felt I had no story of my own worth sharing so all I did was ask others to tell me theirs. I listened all the time. I was co-editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper and went on to major in journalism at college. There is a cabinet stuffed with my clips at the Tibbetts home in NJ.
A few years later, once She’s the First was born, the tables turned and people started asking me about my story. I talked all the time. That wasn’t a bad thing: I was able to attract a lot of people to She’s the First. I love teaching others how to get involved.
Now, as I look to plug She’s the First into new networks and industries that are unfamiliar to me, I find myself craving so much insider knowledge. Questions swirling through my head include: Who should I be talking to? How do I effectively pitch them? How does philanthropy fit into the company culture?
Then, after speaking with a couple key advisors, it clicked. While those are smart questions to have in mind, might it be questions of the heart that matter more? (more…)
Months before she (or he) sits down in your office to tell you she’s moving on, to go to grad school or work for a non-profit or start-up, she tells me her job just isn’t fulfilling enough. Her time spent volunteering is what challenges and fulfills her more than anything. She looks to me for advice on how to transition her career into a cause. And while that is what I did unexpectedly (I really did love my previous corporate job, too), it’s not always my immediate recommendation to others.
First, I try to challenge her to think whether she can do anything to leverage where she is right now, at her company, for impact. In contributing to the profitability of her employer, how could she influence the company to give back more effectively?
I similarly want to challenge you: Are you providing your employees–especially your Millennial talent–with enough outlets to develop new skills and make a meaningful difference on the world?
Think about it…because I have an idea for you.
This blog is a personal project that I decided to tackle this year. The more I’m learning, the more I’m wanting to share insights, look at what succeeds and fails, and pull out the lessons you and I can both apply to our growth. (more…)
I trace it back to four years ago, when my best friend Rachel Hofstetter started a tradition that I love tremendously.
Just like a million people in New York do outside, we count down 10…9…8… till the clock strikes midnight. And then, just as fireworks start to sprinkle the sky, we run. 4 miles with 10,000 people! We are the die-hard participants of New York Road Runners’ Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park. It is the healthiest, most energizing, majestic start to the new year and I plan to do it for absolutely ever. (more…)