Pulse: When Fundraising Gets Personal
Every fundraiser has his or her tried-and-true bag of tricks. But in this day of donors seeking to be more actively involved with the charities they support, it might be time to bury those bags and try a fresh approach.
International fundraising consultant Bernard Ross says donors no longer respond as well to things such as boring speeches delivered during stuffy fundraising galas, overworked and overused direct-mail packages, and bland e-mail appeals. Instead, he says, they’re looking for fundraisers to aggressively motivate and inspire them — and that happens best in person.
Ross, director of U.K.-based consultancy and training organization The Management Centre (=mc), co-authored the book “The Influential Fundraiser: Using the Psychology of Persuasion to Achieve Outstanding Results,” with The Management Centre’s co-director, Clare Segal. In it, “fundraisers will find quick ways to study other people -— subtle clues, how they do things, how they are influenced — and then ways they can adjust their behavior,” Ross says.
The book offers an alternative model for asking and influencing potential donors and peers, using the latest techniques developed in the neural and psychological sciences.
Some of the things addressed in the book include how to make a compelling ask to mid- and high-value donors, how to win board members over to a new campaign strategy, how to persuade reluctant colleagues to commit to ideas, and ways to handle the objections of a skeptical venture philanthropist.
The book aims to arm fundraisers with invaluable skills such as meeting donor challenges; shaping ideas into effective, memorable messages; building rapport with “difficult” or “different” people; handling “no” responses; and learning from failure.
To be successful, Ross says, fundraisers must pay attention to what people say and to their body language, and then adjust accordingly how they themselves respond.