The IDEA Blog



Read the thoughts and impressions on a variety of topics written by IDEA staff as well as occasional guest bloggers.

IDEA Impact Grants
September 28, 2015
By Brad K. Mazon, Ph.D., Director, Fundraising and Advancement Brad Mazon As a fundraising professional, I have to always keep what motivates a donor to give in the forefront. Even in my own life, I’ve had to evaluate what it is about a certain organization that motivates me to want to support its cause. I’ve come to the conclusion that the motivation to give is the end result of a unique combination of brain, heart, and, ultimately, wallet. First the brain. This is the domain of the rational. What is it about an organization that makes a positive impact? Does it have the staffing to carry out its mission? Is it a good steward of funds? Does it possess a unique market niche that sets its services apart from other similar organizations? As part of my due diligence, I check the organization’s 990 form, read its annual report, and review its website and social media outlets to evaluate it. This is when I think about the impact that my donation will have on the organization and on its mission. Next the heart. This one is tougher to characterize, though undeniably powerful as a donation motivator. This is where one’s experience with a particular organization has bearing. The organization’s identity and mission exert a powerful influence over one’s emotions or sensitivities toward a particular issue. It’s quite possible that the heart part can overpower the brain. The brain falls prey to the heart’s ability to frame our support for a particular organization or issue in an emotional way. All we can do is succumb to it. The hope is that the brain and heart are balanced enough so that donations that we make combine the best of both worlds, the rational linear thinking associated with the organization’s effectiveness and impact combined with the story of the organization that appeals to the heart. Finally – as if this is some magical equation – the combination of the brain and heart lead me to open up my wallet on behalf of an organization for which I have an affinity. I evaluate how much I am willing to give based on my analysis, and then take the practical steps to do just that. I combine the elements of my “donation knapsack” and press the “Donate Now” button. Satisfaction reigns. I am content knowing that I have, in some small way, made a difference. IDEA has enjoyed 40 years of making a positive and lasting difference on the lives of countless faculty and students. It’s just that we’ve never measured our impact. Our story has been couched in terms of being a service provider, a purveyor of well-researched products designed to improve teaching and learning. The mission to provide high-quality assessment tools for higher education has not diminished. In fact, we are developing new tools to address other areas for which higher education practitioners need assistance. class-teachingWhat’s different now is that we want to tell our compelling story in a more meaningful way. We have always been a nonprofit organization at heart, adding value to teaching and learning while expanding new knowledge on behalf of practitioners across the United States. It’s a story of learning objectives fulfilled, professional development goals achieved, and of lives transformed. Over the next months, you will see IDEA become involved with grantmaking to assist practitioners with their research efforts. Through our new Giving website at, you will find donation opportunities designed to support research and practice in teaching and learning and in campus climate issues. We are working hard to enhance our nonprofit impact in a way that leverages our 40 years of experience and research in new ways. Donations to IDEA will directly go to support new knowledge during a time when the needs of students are changing at a rapid pace, as are those of faculty. Brain. Heart. Wallet. A powerful troika for sure, one that I hope donors to IDEA will use to make the decision to support the important work that we do and the impact that we have. As we work hard to achieve our fundraising goals over the next year, please rest assured that your support will be stewarded ethically, effectively, and thoughtfully. That’s a combination that my brain, heart, and wallet can live with.
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