Beware of the fundraising Illuminati

The Illuminati is the name given to real and fictitious secret society groups claiming special knowledge or enlightenment. 

In the nonprofit sector, such groups of ‘experts’ exist; make no mistake!

They act like they know what’s best for you, your organization’s supporters, and the sector as a whole while saying they are “just trying to make the world a better place.” And I can only assume that deep in their hearts they really believe that to be true.

But, I have learned (unfortunately from experience) that many of them are actually mostly trying to make their world better. In other words, they are fiercely focused on their own self-interests yet they pretend to be altruistic.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with self-interest. But cloaking it in altruism is misleading. And that’s not fair.


Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Donegan
4 years ago

So well put. You can usually spot the difference between being “of service” and promoting “your service”. Thanks for providing a consistent “boots on the ground” backdrop. Your perspectives keep me always thinking of ways to serve in a stronger way.

Christopher J Doyle
Christopher J Doyle
4 years ago

And they usually are trying to sell you “re-branding”.

Heidi Webb
Heidi Webb
4 years ago

It hurts us all when people talk it, but have never walked it. I see it more now than ever before — “fundraising coaches” or “expert trainers” who have never spent a day bringing in a dollar.

Michael J. Rosen
4 years ago

Greg, disruptors will always run into those who cling to the status quo out of fear of change and/or self-interest. In the nonprofit sector, the problem is particularly challenging because charities offer little reward for breakout success, sometimes success is even punished. The solution is for disruptors to continue to disrupting. And we need to shine a light on the “Illuminati.” While speaking generally about the Illuminati is one thing, I think it’s important to be more specific when calling them out. Whether you name names, I encourage you to provide specific examples of their behavior to drive home your point. I also hope you’ll keep the pressure on. Thank you for being a good-hearted disruptor.

Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

Subscribe to our blog today and get actionable fundraising ideas delivered straight to your inbox!