When Major Donors Start with the -isms

Dear Kim,

I am 23 years old and just got a job in a social justice organization as a development associate. I have a portfolio of donors that I am in charge of, and I have a meeting with one of them soon. He has given $1,000 for three years and I want to ask him for $1,500. When I called to set up the meeting, he asked me what our organization was doing to address the rising fascism of our country. I know what fascism is in theory, but you can give me any specific ideas that I could incorporate into what I say to help answer his question? I am not that nervous about asking, but I do want to sound intelligent.
— Wanting a Winning Portfolio


Dear Wanting,

The first rule of any encounter where you want to appear knowledgeable in answer to a question is to ask the questioner what they think about the issue. In this case, you might say to the donor, “How do you see fascism on the rise?” and “What is the most important thing we can do about it in our organization?” To answer your question more specifically, I would suggest looking at the work of Laurence Britt who researched a number of fascist regimes looking for commonalities. Besides the obvious Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, he studied Spain under Franco, Chile under Pinochet, Portugal under Salazar, and so on. A summary of his work has recently been published on a number of postcards and even t-shirts. (I have seen them in the Syracuse Cultural Workers catalog, among other places.) Some specific signs that Britt describes as the early warning signs of fascism are:

–Powerful and continuing nationalism
–Rampant sexism
–Corporate power is protected
–Labor power is suppressed
–Obsession with crime and punishment
–Controlled mass media
–Obsession with national security
–Religion and government are intertwined.

Good luck with your donor and with your work.
— Kim