Conference Roundup: Get Uncomfortable
Being wrong just might be the rightest thing you ever do.
So says Jon Duschinsky, founder of Paris-based Bethechange Consulting. In his session, “Breaking Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone,” at the 2008 Bridge Conference in Washington, D.C., last month, Duschinsky said turning things upside down and not being afraid of making mistakes can put fundraisers on a new road to success.
“Think about preparation for your next board meeting. Who’s prepared to make a mistake? The culture now is it’s not OK to be wrong,” Duschinsky said. “We get educated out of our creativity. It’s time to change.”
Organizations should be investing time, energy and money into finding their next great fundraising idea, he said, advising that nonprofits should be willing and able to plunk 10 percent of their budgets into research and development.
“If you’re not embracing change, I don’t want to be here in five or 10 years to tell the tale,” he said. “You have to be challenging yourself and your organization.”
Duschinsky pointed to Apple as an example. The consumer electronics and software powerhouse created 81 products before coming up with its uber-popular iPhone, he said, adding, “You should have 81 fundraising ideas, or at least be looking at 10 or five.”
When it comes to fundraising, Duschinsky said there are four key questions an organization needs to answer for its donors and potential donors.
1. Why do you really need my money?
“The quality of communication is important,” he said. “It must get [donors] from their hearts to their heads to their wallets.”
He encouraged fundraisers and development officers to sit around with staff and keep asking “why” until they get to the meat of why it is important to give to their organization.
“At the end you’ll have a new mission statement and have communication to get people excited,” Duschinsky said.
2. What are you going to do with my money if I give it to you?
3. What benefit am I going to get from giving you my money?
4. What have you done with my money?
Once an organization can answer all of those questions, it has what it needs to move forward.
The next phase for fundraisers who want to step out of their comfort zones is to “be purple.”
Duschinsky pointed to the book “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable” by marketing guru Seth Godin. The book explains the key to successful marketing is finding a way to stand out — or to be the purple cow in a field of average cows.
According to Duschinsky, worldwide human rights organization Amnesty International France has embraced the concept. For example, one of its videos shows dictators including Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il and Idi Amin Dada putting their lips together and blowing, with imagery suggesting that they’re trying to blow out Amnesty’s candle of hope logo. The video concludes with the still-lit candle and the message that Amnesty is here to stay.
“It comes to the essential part of Amnesty,” Duschinsky said. “It comes to one thing — its logo. They turned it into the culmination of all these dictators blowing at it. They created power in their brand by playing with it, giving it life.”
Duschinsky said fundraisers also must remember what people retain from communication. A study by researcher Albert Mehrabian showed that only 7 percent of communication comes from spoken words, 38 percent from the tone of the voice and 55 percent from body language.
“A really good fundraiser is going to focus on body language and tone of voice,” Duschinsky said. “You need to get under people’s skin and understand the trace you leave behind.”
And, sometimes, it comes down to one simple thing — being bold.
“It’s about [thinking], ‘I don’t care if I’m wrong,’” Duschinsky said. “Get out of your comfort zone, push to the limit, and good things will happen to you.”
Finally, Duschinsky urges fundraisers to take a cue from the infamous International Man of Mystery Austin Powers. Work your mojo!
Duschinsky’s five tips for developing mojo:
1. Feel. Stop analyzing.
2. Laugh. Stop taking things so seriously.
3. Accept. “Despite the rules, there is no right or wrong answer,” he said. “Accept that change happens. There’s going to be more and more change. Don’t fight it. Accept it. Get funky, get the mojo going.”
4. Experience. Practice what you preach.
5. Trust your intuition. “Know in your gut if something is going to work or not,” Duschinsky said. “Do it even if you know you’re going to fail. Try it. Take risks. If you never failed, you never lived.”