Your pain is the breaking of a shell that encloses your understanding – Kahlil Gibran
If you recognized the first line of Gibran’s poem On Pain, then you’re more literate than me. But I know it now because Stacey Monk, co-founder of Epic Change, hit me over the head with it in during a keynote address she gave at the Nonprofit 2.0 unconference in early June.
As a jaded DC nonprofit professional, I was there hoping to glean new insight for leveraging social media to improve audience growth, click-through rates, and donor conversions—the cold, hard metrics by which many of us are measured campaign to campaign.
Not two minutes into her moving—and at times lump-in-the-throat inducing—keynote address, I knew she wouldn’t be giving your average conference room motivational speech. She recounted the painful episode of an unexpected loss of her brother. Then reciting the line of poetry, said she knew that episode was her shell breaking. This new understanding prompted many other changes, ultimately leading to a trip where she stumbled into a relationship that would completely redirect her life to start a nonprofit building schools in Tanzania.
And just like that, she had us rethinking why we do what do, and whether we have the right motives for doing it.
Growth through pain was just one of her messages. Stacey both encouraged the fundraisers and communicators present for “creating radical good”, and admonished us for reducing the sacred act of giving to a click of a “Donate” button.
“I think it’s sad and shameful that we are talking so much about money and so much about our organizations and our branding and we’re not talking about love,” she said, adding that nonprofits need to work harder on fostering love, and giving trust, and not denying donors the feeling of joy that comes through genuine charitable giving. But above all, we need more love in the work we do.
Ironically, as powerful and thought provoking as the message was, Stacey had her doubts. Writing in her Stacey also own blog about the experience of giving the lecture, she said she is still gripped with fear prior to public speaking gigs, a fear that she’ll forget some key point or let down the audience or simply that she won’t be good enough. Fear not, Stacey. You had us at “the Love.”