Getting It—or Not
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I had the privilege of sharing my concept The Triple Win™ with several audiences last week. I love connecting with people and learning who they are. That's what we're about as fundraisers, aren't we?
Apparently, not everyone shares that view.
As part of my work, I often use role-play. Role-plays are a very effective teaching tool. Much of my message is centered about being in the right frame of mind, so it's a natural fit.
A participant in one of my sessions last week provided some interesting feedback. I'm always seeking to improve both my content and my effectiveness, so I encourage as much as people are willing to share.
Celia, the executive director for a social service nonprofit, first stated her dislike of role-plays. That's OK. Not everyone is going to enjoy putting himself or herself out there.
It's what she said next that really caught my attention.
The particular role-play is three roles for three persons in a group. The exercise rotates the roles twice so that all three persons get the opportunity to be in all three roles: philanthropist, executive director and community member. The roles are constructed so that there are mutually exclusive elements to each role.
Celia thought the exercise was "redundant." The role rotation didn't provide her with any insights, as she was "the same" for all three. She also felt the whole concept way too "simple" and only for the "beginner."
The purpose of the exercise is to get inside the head of each role—philanthropist, nonprofit executive and community member—to understand and appreciate their particular point of view.
All three roles contained mutually exclusive elements, yet Celia said she was the same in all three roles. She simply remained herself.
The result? Celia never got outside of her own paradigm or adopted a point of view outside of her own.
When you have a cause that you're passionate about, successfully engaging another to support that effort requires that you understand his or her particular needs, visions and values.
Since ours is an urgent and noble cause, we often make the assumption that the potential supporter will feel as passionate as we do. But often they don't.
The solution? Simply persuade or convince them to our cause, right? Wrong!
Principle 4 of The Eight Principles™ is Learn & Plan™. First learn who will really support you by affinity and values, and then plan how to approach them. Learning who will really support you requires adopting another point of view. It requires getting into another's head. It requires getting over ourselves.
The conventional wisdom says persuade potential donors to your point of view. Any donors. Anywhere. Sounds like a lot more work, and not nearly as rewarding.
Philanthropy and its mirror image, fundraising, really aren't about money. They're about people.
Getting to know people—what they value and what they envision—is essential before reaching out. Essential, that is, if your goal to build a base of dependable investors who will sustain your organization over time.
When we're over ourselves and realize the truth of Principle 1 of the Eight Principles™, Donors are the Drivers®, we're ready to seriously engage our supporters to seriously support us for a serious period of time.
I extend my thanks to Celia for her candid feedback—and the impetus for this article.
Let me hear from you. Please share your situation and the challenges you face in developing sustainable revenue streams. Email me and I'll arrange a brief consult providing you with practical guidance. I'll choose some of these thorny obstacles to share, along with my insights, in upcoming columns.
Success is waiting. Go out and achieve it.
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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