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6 Must-See TED Talks for Educational Fundraisers

Jun 2024 - READ IN 3 MINUTES

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Do you remember TED Talks? Before the era of TikTok, TED Talks captivated audiences with profound life lessons, insightful narratives, and powerful missions from some of the world’s most inspiring individuals. In an age dominated by quick, fleeting content, TED Talks offer a refreshing opportunity to delve a little deeper into ideas, while still delivering meaning in under 20 minutes.   

Below, you’ll find a selection of six TED Talks curated for fundraisers like you, each one brimming with valuable insights and practical strategies to enhance your philanthropic efforts. Whether you’re looking to build a culture of philanthropy at your institution or need some guidance on crafting compelling appeals, the TED Talks below will help spark some inspiration and hopefully teach you something new.

1. How to start a movement

Derek Siver’s astute analysis of some live footage capturing the inception of a “movement” may not immediately seem relevant to educational fundraisers like yourself. However, his observations highlight the importance of gaining committed advocates early on in a campaign to effectively rally a whole community of people around your movement. Whether you want to get constituents behind your institution’s overall mission or a specific Giving Day initiative, tune into Siver’s talk for some sage advice—or at the very least a good laugh. 

Watch “How to start a movement” now


2. It’s time for infectious generosity

“You don’t need to be powerful. You just need to be infectious.”

The head of TED, Chris Anderson, attempts to answer the question, “What would it take to make generosity infectious?” To do so, he shares impactful anecdotes of generosity from around the world and explores a new mantra for generosity: Take a risk, give what you can, and be amazed by what happens next. In an era when many fundraisers are seeing their donor numbers go down—despite dollars raised going up— his insights could help you find ways to inspire more people to give smaller gifts that can still make a difference. 

Watch “It’s time for infectious generosity” now


3. The clues to a great story

Every great fundraiser knows that creative storytelling can be the determining factor in whether your campaign resonates with donors. Why not learn a thing or two from one of Pixar’s acclaimed filmmakers, Andrew Stanton?  Stanton is known for his writing and directing work on the Toy Story series, Finding Nemo, and WALL-E, among many other noteworthy films. As a fundraiser, the narratives you tell are far from the adventurous plights of Stanton’s protagonists. However, his philosophy around storytelling provides insights into how to captivate audiences and evoke emotions that are sure to prove useful in winning over your donors. 

Watch “The clues to a great story” now


4. Your invitation to disrupt philanthropy

Sara Lomelin, the CEO of Philanthropy Together, introduces her model for philanthropy called “giving circles”—groups of people with shared values who come together to help fund diverse solutions to global problems. This concept of “giving circles” may not directly resemble the structure of how your institution raises money. However, her core message that “We can have a much bigger impact together than we can alone” is at the heart of most successful crowdfunding campaigns. Additionally, her tips for fostering a sense of belonging to ultimately inspire collective philanthropic action can certainly prove useful for fundraisers.  

Watch “Your invitation to disrupt philanthropy” now


5. How to write less but say more

If part of your role entails writing fundraising appeals—whether for social posts, emails, or messages to major donors—this talk is for you. A life-long journalist and the co-founder of Politico and Axios, Jim VandeHei shares what he’s learned about how to effectively keep people’s attention in a distracted digital era. His actionable tips will help transform how you communicate with constituents so that your messages will stand out in our noisy world. 

Watch “How to write less but say more” now


 6. Five ways to lead in an era of constant change

Educational fundraisers are no strangers to navigating ever-evolving circumstances for their institutions and world at large. A global pandemic, a tricky political climate, and, most recently, a series of student protests have kept institutions on their toes as they try to balance the often competing priorities of their various constituent groups. Organizational change expert Jim Hemerling offers key principles for leading your organization through constant change. 

Watch “Five ways to lead in an era of constant change” now


More Insights to Elevate Your Fundraising Efforts

Hopefully, the information and strategies within these TED talks provided some inspiration and practical advice to apply to your philanthropic endeavors. If you’re hungry for more fundraising insight, consider subscribing to the GiveCampus blog. You’ll get access to the latest tips, technology, and success stories from your peers. 


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