Don't Skip Steps in the Sequence of a Proper Ask
After a couple of email exchanges with more details of these meetings, it became clear why his success record was so abysmal. It wasn't a lack of sincerity or winsomeness. It wasn't that the individuals he was seeing lacked the disposition to invest in this worthy cause. It was simply that he was skipping a critical step on the path to success.
When we live and breathe a cause or project each and every day, it becomes a part of us. We develop a great deal of knowledge and understanding. Over time, much of that knowledge becomes second nature. There's no longer a need to consciously remind ourselves. When commitment and knowledge become instinct, that's not a bad thing. It makes us even more productive and expert in our efforts for the common good.
It becomes a serious liability, however, when we start reaching out to others to enlist their support. I mean any who do not share our insider knowledge or experience. When we connect with these individuals we naturally begin our efforts to enlist or convince with this innate understanding firmly packed into our psyches. We start at a place that assumes all that we already know. We don't stop to remind ourselves that the person with whom we are speaking knows little more than our names, what we do in general terms, and the name of the board member siting with us at the meeting.
In his eagerness to succeed, this well-meaning young man forgot to step outside of himself and begin at the same place as the person sitting in front of him. Making a potential investor acutely aware of what we do and why we do it — in terms that they will understand and appreciate — is essential to the donor education that must precede any financial investment in our cause, no matter how worthy.