Maximize the Ask With Meaningful Eye Contact
The well-meaning client was in the middle of a campaign-planning study, and they copied me on an email. With great excitement, they shared a preview of their campaign video.
I took another sip of coffee and called the client. Before we were engaged, they had received a grant—some of the grant funding would be used for our professional fees, and a board member had encouraged them to invest in a campaign video.
This was the first I had heard of the project. I shared with the CEO that any collateral materials should follow the study and a campaign plan and that we wouldn’t know until then if a video would be helpful in implementing the strategy.
I love videos when they have a purpose. Videos as a part of a direct appeal campaign or awareness campaign can be powerful. They capture attention and can create powerful emotions. Video is much more powerful in this context than words alone.
However, in a major gifts-focused campaign, a video with an ask has diminished use, and unfortunately, this video (a challenge when materials are produced without the involvement of senior development leaders) had an ask.
Right now, this organization has a need for an intensive board-led cultivation program involving tours. The video would be effective in this situation if it did not have the ask and addressed some themes from the study research.
The reality is that when you are asking for a gift, this visit should be one of a series of visits and can often be the most brief. You have already had conversations on the opportunity for the donor to transform lives, they have already been educated about the opportunity and you have provided them with additional information based on a dialogue.
Now it is time to connect. That means eye contact—not showing a video, not showing a PowerPoint and not flipping through a presentation book.
Researchers at Cornell University found that if a character on a cereal box made eye contact with an adult consumer, the consumer would purchase it over a brand without eye contact.
If eye contact can prompt the purchase of cereal, what can meaningful eye contact mean when someone is sharing their passion about an opportunity to transform or save lives?
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.