You can make more friends in two months…

You can make more friends in two months…

Dale Carnegie said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you will in two years trying to get other people interested in you”. Making friends is essential to fundraising success. To make friends and influence people you have to discover what interests them. Fundraisers are often so keen to talk about their agenda, they forget to find out if it interests the person they are addressing.

I became a charity fundraiser after the death of my wife, because I couldn’t think of any other reasons to get out of bed

I had no actual experience of fundraising, apart from amateur forays into small target fundraising.  It was like getting into that boat and rowing the Atlantic with no training. My experience was in sales and marketing, advertising and public relations. At least those skills were relevant to persuading people to donate to charity and membership of the IOF helped shape those skills more effectively.

During marketing career I learnt the importance of research; the importance of understanding what people like and don’t like about products and why they buy.  The same principal applies in charity fundraising. Before you spend time and effort trying to persuade people to give you need to know they are potential donors, otherwise it is wasted time.  So be interested in your prospect; understand what motivates them; stand in their shoes!  You can then discover if you have common cause.

I always dreaded the publication of The Sunday Times Rich List. Some well-intentioned Trustee would shove the magazine under my nose with the comment  “I thought you might find this useful. There must be lots of people in here who can solve our fundraising problem.” That is true, but the most important question is: are they interested in what you have to say? Once you have answered that question the next one is how to get their interest. Most wealthy people have well-developed defence systems to deflect unwanted approaches. So you need a carefully developed approach strategy that overcomes those barriers and triggers their interest or it will end up like my previous blog Fundraiser 0: Rejections 6:

My book Fundraising the Essentials for Success goes into the strategies of Donor Development and the Art of Asking in some detail. Some people say you should ask at every opportunity. If you have the prospect in front of you, shoot! It shows you are doing your job. – “An Ask a day keeps the Board at bay.” Absolutely not! Asking for money is a conversation, not a demand. Demands create resentment and invite the reply NO! The prospect may give you a token sum just to get rid of you. The result is that you have undershot your target and you have not made a friend. Prospects are precious. Treat them well.

Talking of undershoot, here is an actual case study of “The Highwayman” or “Stand and Deliver” approach that happened to an acquaintance of mine.

He received an invitation to a dinner.  At the dinner he was slightly surprised to discover that a presentation was made for a certain charity with which he had no connection. Resentment was natural, given that the true nature of the dinner had not been explained. More surprise followed when the fundraiser for the charity phoned and asked to meet. At the meeting, after initial pleasantries, the fundraiser opened the conversation with: “Well I am so glad you enjoyed the presentation the other night and I believe that you’re good for £50,000.” The meeting ended abruptly and so did any future chance of support. People give to causes that interest them- not just because they have the money.

There were no questions about whether the presentation had created interest. No questions about whether there was any interest in becoming involved, or exactly what that involvement might be. Did that go wrong? No question.

The rule is quite simple. Show interest in people to discover what interests them. See two ears, two eyes one the key to success. The more interest you show the more friends you will make and the more prospects you will develop; which takes us back to Dale Carnegie  “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people…” I’ll talk about the cultivation process using the Four I’s- Introduce, Interest, Involve Invest- in a future blog. Or, if you can’t wait, it’s in Fundraising the Essentials for Success!