(Chronicle of Philanthropy) Despite having lost his job as a senior fundraiser for NPR, Ron Schiller is cautioning nonprofits not to shy away from discussing controversial topics with potential donors, including religion and politics. Schiller was fired from NPR after he claimed that most members of the Tea Party were “racist” to someone who he thought could be a big donor to NPR. Unbeknownst to Schiller, the person he was speaking with so candidly was recording the conversation using a hidden camera. James O’Keefe, who is also responsible for similar targeted publicity campaigns against ACORN and Planned Parenthood, later went public with the video.
Speaking in Tampa this week, Schiller urged other fundraisers that donors want to connect with someone real, with real opinions on important issues—not generic “institution speak.” Schiller urged nonprofit staff to be honest and authentic, despite the fact that such candor may create awkward situations. Despite the public fallout after his meeting with O’Keefe, Schiller remains optimistic and asserts that he wouldn’t want to change his behavior with donors based on this incident.
Schiller has since gotten a job at a Boston company that recruits staff for nonprofit fundraising.