Authenticator: Validating Your Passion (to Donors)
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Last week, I kicked off this series of unpacking the roles solicitors must assume when they seek a gift. They are: bag carrier, authenticator and rainmaker. In last week’s article, I explored the concept of bag carrier. What might seem mechanical and perhaps a perfunctory role can actually deliver in a clinch.
The second soliciting role is the authenticator. The name says it. Essential qualities of the authenticator are a passion for the cause being pitched and a thorough, almost innate knowledge of the organization.
When we approach a prospective investor in our cause, being authentic—being real and believable—is the first thing someone will notice.
You can’t fake this. Sometimes people try.
When they do, they come off as the proverbial telephone solicitor. Even if they are sitting directly in front of the donor, they’re blandly reading a script that someone else has prepared for them. They might as well be speaking to the wall.
Trying to promote a cause or organization that you really don’t understand—or passionately believe in—is like wearing clothes that don’t quite fit. It’s obvious—to everyone.
By definition, being authentic is being sincere and real. OK, so how do you do "real"?
Having a good knowledge of what your organization does and why it does it is the first step. Knowing the real world impact of the good work your organization does is second. Finally, infusing this understanding with a heart-felt passion gives what you know a genuine and sober character that cannot be doubted.
Genuine passion and understanding will be felt and appreciated by a donor even if they don’t agree with you.
And that’s the litmus test.
When a prospective investor is convinced of your veracity, even if he disagrees with your point of view, you know you’re there.
That’s why you need to test your knowledge and passion with someone who isn’t a part of your team. Before putting yourself before a prospective investor, try it out on someone who isn’t aware and who doesn’t yet have a formed opinion.
So you’ve got the passion and you’ve acquired the knowledge. You’ve even gone to the effort of identifying the real-world impact of your organization.
You’ve nailed it, right? Not quite.
The most daunting hurdle isn’t knowing the story, believing the story or being passionate about it. It’s something far subtler—and a lot more difficult to vault over.
This obstacle is something ophthalmologists see a lot. It’s called “myopia.” Medically, myopia is the condition of seeing sharply only those things that are right in front of you.
In the world of ideas it’s being focused on your own point of view.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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