Okay, we’re here. Mid-pandemic.
It’s not new. The adrenaline that kicked-in and prompted you to fight, not flee, has kicked out. You may be tired of telling your coronavirus story. You may assume your constituents are tired of hearing it. So maybe you’ve slacked off on your marketing and fundraising messages.
While the giving bump may be flattening, I encourage you not to accept this as an inevitable outcome. You’re still in control of your own destiny. And since most nonprofits count quite a bit on year-end giving — it can mean 30 – 50% of all annual revenue – you must consider the things you can do, not those you can’t do.
What can you do to prevent a slump, just when revenue to assure your mission thrives is most essential? I’m struck by a recent post by the inimitable Seth Godin.
The cold open
No one ever bought anything on an elevator. The elevator pitch isn’t about selling your idea, because a metaphorical elevator is a lousy place to make a pitch.
When you feel like you’re being judged and only have a minute to make a first impression, it’s tempting to try to explain the truth and nuance of who you are, what you’ve done and what you’re going to do in the time it takes to travel a few floors.
That rarely works.
The alternative is the elevator question, not the elevator pitch. To begin a conversation–not about you, but about the person you’re hoping to connect with. If you know who they are and what they want, it’s a lot more likely you can figure out if they’re a good fit for who you are and what you want. And you can take the opportunity to help them find what they need, especially if it’s not from you.
Too often, we feel rejected when in fact, all that’s happened is a mismatch of needs, narratives and what’s on offer.
Instead of looking at everyone as someone who could fund you or buy from you or hire you, it might help to imagine that almost no one can do those things, but there are plenty of people you might be able to help in some other way, even if it’s only to respect them enough to not make a pitch.
No one wants to be hustled.
Of course, I’ve bold-faced the language I find most relevant for nonprofits. Ask your constituents how you can be of service. You to them, not them to you. They’re part of your mission too. After all, philanthropy means ‘love of humanity.’ Donors are human, just like clients. And what goes around comes around.
Listen. Offer them gifts of content that meet their needs in one or more ways. I offered a webinar today, and asked the participants what folks need most right now. Answers? Connection. Stability. Hope. Joy. Encouragement. Compassion. These are not tangible things. They happen to be things nonprofits are uniquely suited to offer.
When you give people opportunities to help others, and come from a place of love, humanity, gratitude and empathy in so doing, your supporters won’t feel hustled. They’ll feel empowered to be heroes.
I’ve never heard so many people say “I need to DO something, I just don’t know what to do.”
Help your donors. ‘Hero’ them.
Here are resources I’ve collected for you to help you and your constituents along the path to passionate philanthropy. I want to thank my sponsor Bloomerang for making it possible for me to spend the time to do this for you on a biweekly basis. It is a labor of love for both of us.
Clairity Click-it, Your Nonprofit Ticket to…