Knock Their Socks Off
I had one final try: “Yuen, imagine Claire [a close friend and respected colleague] was listening to us having this conversation. What would she say?”
There was a pause — a sudden dawning realization. “Well,” Yuen said, “she might say that it wasn’t fair that you have to take my calls.”
I had to get Yuen into Position 3 — the objective observer — to get her to understand the challenge.
In fundraising, we often need to do they same thing. In position 1 you treat donors as themselves — the foundation director with a duty to spend the money wisely, the wealthy business person with a commitment to corporate social responsibility, or the individual with assets and social values.
Water for Life is a fictional nonprofit. Let’s assume it works in Africa helping people gain access to water through wells. In doing this, it helps release young people from the tyranny of water gathering. The Water for Life fundraiser needs to convince a skeptical donor of the importance of this work. So he begins in Position 1.
“We’d like you as a well-established and generous donor to contribute to our village water pump program. This will help young people collect water for their families more easily and so have more time for school and play. We hope that as a parent yourself, you will feel it’s important to help our program — and feel a sense of pride in helping us to do important work in Africa for young people.”
If this ask doesn’t work, our fundraiser can try to encourage the donor into Position 2, where she can appreciate how important her donation is to the people directly affected rather than appealing to her own values and perspective. Our fundraiser tries again.
“Imagine you are 10-year-old Sagita. Every morning you rise at 5 a.m. to walk three miles along a dusty track to the nearest pump in the next village. There you fill two five-gallon jerry cans with water. You balance one on your head and carry the other. Stopping frequently to change hands, you walk the three miles back to your house. Only then can you wash and make some hot tea for breakfast. You do the same in the evening after school — even though you are frightened of the dark road.