Living Your Eulogy Values
My job is to get people to ask other people for donations.
I spend silly amounts of time thinking about how to do that—what internal levers there are to pull, how to maneuver people into physical situations that bring about mental compliance, how to achieve a change in my targets' willingness to do as I wish.
I believe that my youth as the second oldest and only girl of four children may have made me deeply manipulative and fairly skilled at hand-to-hand combat. In spite of my bent toward coercion, I feel good about what I do. And David Brooks in his "Moral Bucket List" piece helps me understand why.
Brooks says, "It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral—whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?"
The best nonprofit points-of-contact with volunteers generally, or volunteer fundraisers specifically, reinforce the idea in that person that they are good. The best points-of-contacts help people identify with the idea that they are the person who runs into, and not out of, the burning building. If successful, we help our targets self-identify as being good to the point that they work for free for our nonprofits, donate to our nonprofits and fundraise for our nonprofits. We know, statistically, that positive communications work best on every front in gaining compliance. Those positive communications help people see themselves as helpers to others.
What we can feel great about, as we coerce people with positive messages to do the right thing, is that we are building out great eulogies each and every day. We are helping people be good.
Katrina VanHuss is the CEO of Turnkey, a U.S.-based strategy and execution firm for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Katrina has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded the company. Turnkey’s clients include most of the top thirty U.S. peer-to-peer campaigns — Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the ALS Association, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as some international organizations, like UNICEF.
Otis Fulton is a psychologist who joined Turnkey in 2013 as its consumer behavior expert. He works with clients to apply psychological principles to fundraising. He is a much-sought-after copywriter for nonprofit messaging. He has written campaigns for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The March of Dimes, the USO and dozens of other organizations.
Now as a married couple, Katrina and Otis almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism, and human decision-making – much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P, Peer to Peer Forum, and others. They write a weekly column for NonProfit PRO and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, "Dollar Dash: The Behavioral Economics of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising." They live in Richmond, Virginia, USA.