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Divination Modalities and the Art of Scholarship Agreements

Fundraising may not technically be one of the magical arts, but keeping donors happy while serving institutional purposes can take superhuman skills.

September 27, 2022

Join us at the next national Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) conference plenary session for a fascinating look into future thinking and the art of crafting effective scholarship agreements. Expert soothsayers in the field of divination reveal new insights into awarding funds for student success and donor satisfaction. Sage advice focuses on high-impact practices necessary for inclusivity, managing donor expectations, understanding what motivates Gen Z, complying with state and federal law, and preparing for an uncertain future.

No more will your institution be saddled with overengineered obligations that leave precious scholarship dollars on the table and students drowning in debt.

Panelists include (alphabetical): Oda Mae Brown, Jambi, Jareth (aka the Goblin King) and Professor Sybill Trelawney. Moderator: Joseph Campbell.* (see below)

Advanced registration is required. We predict a full house.

Participants may bring their own crystal balls for a special workshop following the session. Due to its disease-like nature, glitter will be prohibited.

Panelists (alphabetical order)

Oda Mae Brown of NYC’s Harlem comes to us from a long line of self-taught mediums. As she states, “My mama had the gift. I had no idea I had the gift until some annoying ghost kept me up all night singing something about Henry VIII.” She regularly works with law enforcement, auditors and philanthropic organizations, speaking to the dead about the location of last will and testaments, documentation of donor intent and computer passwords. Her journey in solving the now famous Sam Wheat murder was chronicled in the award-winning movie Ghost (1990), starring Patrick Swayze (Sam Wheat) and Demi Moore (Molly Jensen). Brown was played by Whoopi Goldberg, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the role.

Brown has made a career in speaking with widows as an intercessor and believes that development officers often ignore women donors. She discusses the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in writing gift agreements by citing Lilly School of Philanthropy studies on women and giving, national statistics on aging and longevity, and the benefits of giving to right wrongs of the past.

Jambi has worked as a genie since the 1990s after discovering the works of Norman Vincent Peale, especially Peale’s seminal work The Power of Positive Thinking. Jambi’s catchphrases, “Wish? Did someone say wish?” and “Your wish is granted; long live Jambi!” are among the most repeated by a large cadre of motivational thought disciples. Today, Jambi frequently delivers online workshops and infomercials alongside Tony Robbins. The Zoom founder Eric Yuan is thought to have been inspired by Jambi’s early appearances on the hit children’s program Pee Wee’s Playhouse. When not delivering wishes, Jambi can be found enjoying the company of his longtime partner Miss Yvonne and hosting parties for countless celebrities.

In this session, Jambi talks about how to set boundaries with donors. Donors may have many wishes about who receives their scholarships and how the selection process is handled. Jambi provides tactics for skillfully keeping donors out of trouble and institutions from doing things that make it difficult to expend funds. For example, a donor may admirably wish to support specific identities like LGBTQ+ students, but explaining the difficulty with compliance takes diplomacy (Jambi wonders, “How do you suggest a student prove it?”). Also, he explores how you might tell a donor that although they may wish to be part of the student selection process, the IRS doesn’t allow it.

Jareth, aka the Goblin King, is known for his expertise in behavioral patterns exhibited by teenagers and young adults, who otherwise would make questionable decisions if not led down a path to self-discovery. He is the author of New York Times parenting best sellers such as You Have No Power Over Me and I Wouldn’t Do That If I Were You. Jareth’s teachings were the subject of a feature-length film, Labyrinth (1986), directed by Jim Henson. Critically panned at the time of release, the film has since become a cult classic. Jareth was played by an extravagantly coiffed and costumed David Bowie.

The Goblin King delves into motivational factors influencing the actions of Gen Z. He answers the questions: What compels students today to apply for a scholarship? How can the application process be more streamlined? When should new technology be utilized? Is there a time and place for incentives? The Goblin King reveals tricks of the trade from his vast experience over the decades.

Sybill Trelawney, Ph.D., has taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for more than 200 years as an assistant professor. She attended California State University at Fullerton, where she received a B.S. in thought and an M.S. and Ph.D. in parapsychology from Columbia University, studying with the world-renowned scientists Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler. Her dissertation on cellist Dana Barrett’s experience with a demonic-dog creature and the word “Zuul” later led to one of the most cited articles in the Web of Science about harnessing one’s third eye and describing the nature of “The Grim.” Her research is believed to have informed portions of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

For this CASE panel on scholarships, Trelawney warns gift officers, “You may have chosen a career in philanthropy, the most perplexing of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you. Don’t let donors cloud your inner eye.” Among other issues, she will shed light on why limiting the amount of a scholarship in the agreement may seem prudent today, yet might result in unspent funds 50 years from now. She encourages carefully worded gift agreements that skillfully employ deceptively vague language, which can be applied to any future situation to redirect funds legally and ethically when they seemingly cannot be expended.


Joseph Campbell is a celebrated author and professor of comparative mythology and comparative religion at Sarah Lawrence College. He is best known for finding commonalities in all myths, legends and religious beliefs and providing inspirational words to guide people in living meaningful lives.

During this session, he will ask panelists provocative questions about the art of crafting scholarship agreements that have the potential to congratulate donors, facilitate stewardship and inspire future giving. More so, he’ll focus on how philanthropy can be a hero’s journey and scholarships enable students to find their bliss.

*Please note: This essay is satirical. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off. Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you.”

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Kathy Johnson Bowles

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