by Gail Picco (April 30, 2021)
Green Green: Reflections on 51 Years of Raising Money for Nature, David Love, Civil Sector Press, April 22, 2021, 187 pp., $32.00
It was a sort of epiphany says David Love. He and his wife Ann, who helped found Pollution Probe, were working up north setting up an independent school in Yukon. At the same time, one of the first “environmental CEOs” Monte Hummel, who went to Woodstock for his honeymoon, had just taken over World Wildlife Federation (WWF) as its executive director. He asked David to come onboard as an educator. Love quickly made the not-so-big-a-leap to fundraising and has been committed to fundraising for the environment ever since.
Green Green focuses on raising money from individuals. As an environmental fundraiser especially in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, you couldn’t expect to raise money from government or corporations, the other main sources of revenue for fundraising. There, Love discovered a small but highly motivated audience waiting to be inspired, as he quotes UK fundraiser George Smith,
“I suggest your heart would soar if—once in a while—you received a letter written in decent English which said unexpected things in elegant ways, which moved you and stirred your emotions, which angered you or made you proud, a letter which you wanted to read from beginning to end, a letter apparently written from one individual to another.”
The book covers ways to acquire new donors through direct marketing, what you need to do to keep them coming back, how to think about ‘major’ gifts and use events to raise money.
But the real focus of Green Green is Love’s commitment to bequest giving, leaving a gift in your will. And perhaps no other cause is as suited to this fundraising technique as the environment. Legacy giving allows regular people, who make an average wage during their lifetimes, to make a significant legacy gift when their life on earth ends.
“Legacy gifts,” writes Love, “represent a powerful potential long-term lifeline for your organization. There will never be (nor has there ever been) a better time to invest in legacies … our world is ailing in so many ways … we face serious complex issues and to address them we’ll need an exponential growth in money invested in change. We need to stop the disruption of nature, address the threat of climate change, and tackle global poverty and hunger.”
For Love, legacy giving is the ticket to raise the money to do it. But it’s a tough market for environmental causes.
His book points out that, because of the extensive media coverage of climate change and environmental degradation, there is the idea that environmental organizations are working in a welcoming environment. Not so. The percentage of the charity dollar that goes towards environmental causes has remained at about three percent for several decades. It’s a hard slog, and the people who are involved in fundraising for the environment are in it because they feel the calling.
Green Green is a welcome respite from the technocratic writing so prominent in the current fundraising bibliography.
David Love is one of the most respected figures in Canadian philanthropy and it’s not because he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That claim to fame is for the fundraisers who work at hospitals and universities, the metaphorical vacuum cleaners of philanthropic intake. It is because he has remained committed to the cause and honed the best in fundraising technique to raise money from people who care, like he does.
This slim volume, 178 pages from front to back, engagingly written, saying, as George Smith wrote, “unexpected things in elegant ways, which move[s] you and stir[s] your emotions,” packs more of what it means to fundraise than any book on fundraising technique written in Canada in the last decade.
David Love has heart. Green Green has energy. In these days of moves management and naming opportunities, it recalls a time when people got into fundraising because they believed in something, something beyond the raising of money as an end in, and of, itself.
What a pleasure.
Gail Picco is the editor is chief of The Charity Report.
Other reviews by Gail Picco
What Bears Teach Us: The push and pull of co-existence December 8, 2020
Begin Again by Eddie Glaude: James Baldwin as a Man for our Time November 30, 2020
She Proclaims: The necessity of women persistently proclaiming October 20, 2020
The reputation of philanthropy: A history of the facts September 18, 2020