Get My Weekly Email
red apple sitting on top of two textbooks on a desk

The Teacher

nonprofit fundraising

This is the third post of a three-part series about understanding, creating, and maintaining connection in nonprofit fundraising. In the first post of the series we looked at Aristotle's thoughts from 335 BC on our drive to act and our psychological need to connect. In the second post of the series, we turned our focus to the ways in which Aristotle's thoughts were placed under a microscope, studied, and confirmed by neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman in the twenty-first century.

This week we're going to time jump again back to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Teacher

If Aristotle established our instinct to act and connect from the time we're born and Lieberman confirmed Aristotle’s thoughts through rigorous scientific research, the work of Constantin Stanislavski, centuries after Aristotle but decades before Lieberman, demonstrates the value in an orderly, systematic approach to our natural predisposition to act and connect.

Born in 1863, Stanislavski was a Russian actor, teacher, and theater director who was one of the first to regard acting as a craft that required serious self-examination on the part of actors to bring truth, authenticity, and deep connection to their work.

Stanislavski broke away from the presentational style of acting favored from the time of Aristotle through most of the nineteenth century, opting instead to train actors to connect to the inner truth of a character during rehearsal and then share that truth with an audience during performance. His approach, focusing largely on instinctive identification and reactions to material, offers actors techniques that lead to truthful thoughts and authentic feelings onstage.

While he developed his system for actors to use in their work, at the core, what Stanislavski was exploring was the nature of humanity and how we connect with one another and the world around us as well as how our motivations, intentions, and objectives influence our connections.

Good acting as most of us have come to describe it today with words like conversational, natural, real, connected, truthful, and authentic grew out of Stanislavski's work.

Stanislavski’s system is still widely taught today and serves as the foundation for the vast majority of actor training programs around the world. Having trained and worked using his methods both onstage and off, in fundraising and business, I can attest to the power in Stanislavski's system. Nonprofit fundraisers can use elements of Stanislavski's system and the tools that grew out of it to bring their truth, authenticity, and a deeper sense of connection to their work with prospects.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle in ancient Greece, the neuroscientist Matthew D. Lieberman in twenty-first century America, and Constantin Stanislavski in early twentieth century Russia all devoted significant parts of their lives to exploring the who, what, why, where, when, and how of human connection. The nonprofit fundraisers who embrace the work of these three great minds and learn to incorporate it into their practice are fundraisers who will get more yeses with less stresses.

An understanding of its history is important to any profession. From understanding our history comes a sense of belonging, pride. The way I see it fundraisers are as much a part of the Aristotle, Lieberman, Stanislavski legacy as they are the history of philanthropy. It may just be the perfect time to embrace that heritage.

Sign upĀ to receive my weekly email with updates, fresh takes, advice, &Ā tips onĀ buildingĀ better fundraising data.

Sign Me Up!