Saturday, 28 July 2012

I want doesn't get... a four year old talks fundraising

My pre-school daughter likes issuing orders.  "I want FIVE stories tonight," she announced at bed time last week.  Like Pavlov's dogs I react instantly, "I want doesn't get."

She eyes me. 

"I remember," says she.  "The day when you said I want sometimes gets."

Silently, I curse that weak moment but recovering quickly I meet her steely gaze. "Well, I want does sometimes get.  But only when the thing that 'I' wants is the same as the other person wants to give."

Ignore the grammar, okay?  It's true.   And there's a lesson in that.  

One mistake some major gifts fundraisers make is in thinking they are selling.  For some, there's a fear of face to face asks which seems to run marrow deep.  A belief that you have to know your pitch word perfectly, to have a perfectly packaged case for support in glossy brochure full of images of smiling children. 

I say thee, NAY!  (gratuitous Thor quote, for the Marvel lovers out there)

I have been a major gifts fundraiser for nearly ten years and in that time I've raised a fair amount of money.   I've asked trusts for money.  I've asked companies for money.  And more than anything I've asked people for money.  

How many times do you think I've been asked for my elevator pitch? 

That's right.  


Because, as Mr Ken Burnett pointed out many a moon ago, fundraising is about relationship building.  It's about having a coffee with someone and having a chat.  It's about finding out what they care about in the world and asking them what they would like to change or have an impact on.  It's about discovering what keeps them awake at night and what they want for their children's future.  It's asking them what they love about the charities they support and what they wish was done differently.

It's about them.  

What they care about.   

What they want to achieve.

And then it's about discussing whether your organisation can help them to do that.  In a really good meeting, you give something of yourself away.  It's not a one way stream of selling and it's not a one way stream of listening.  It's a two way exchange where you build a rapport, share what excites you both and discover common ground.

And in the best of all possible worlds you find out that what you want, what your organisation needs is also what your potential donor wants to give.  

But what you don't do is walk into a room saying, "We want." 

Because that just doesn't get.



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