[From a 2014 Colgate campaign, did you notice the gunk in his teeth first? Or her extra finger?]

It’s not about what donors are buying,
it’s about what they are buying into

I’ve been told a few times face to face [and probably more behind my back – I don’t mind that, I actually encourage giving people a reason to talk about me behind my back] that I can be overly nit-picky when it comes to advising, reviewing, and revising: creative, copy, above the line strategy, below the line tactics, engagement narratives, scripts, web design, event signage, phone line call trees, user experience, etc., etc., etc., the whole gamut. I like to ask “why”, put forth uncomfortable questions, challenge assumptions, invent more, don’t you?

Being too “nit-picky”. Ah yes, the #chickenshit fundraiser’s easy out to settle…for “good enough”, for mediocrity.

Whether or not I am offering solicited or unsolicited [I care enough to care. Unless you find comfort in insulating yourself, should you not welcome (respectful) unsolicited advice?], I ensure that my perspective is based off of, first a basic respect for the person I am speaking to and the horizon they are working towards, as well as, some sort of primary or secondary research, personal experience as a donor first, data, etc – never on the strength of simply my own tastes, assumptions, biases.

I’m also self-aware enough that I suffer from “resting bitch face” and that I have a voice which can sometimes intimidate others through my tone and/or confidence, I take as much conscious care as possible to always bring forth my point of view with the necessary heavy dose of humility – while also often attempting to put people at ease by reminding them from the outset that “I am not an expert in any sense of the word when it comes to XYZ, but here is my perspective on…”

“BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, AC.
You are just trying to personally justify a reason for being so nit-picky…
There’s no reason for me to spend time on such granular aspects,
I don’t have time or resources. And really, it DOESN’T MATTER!
AAAAAAAAAAAAH PICK YOUR BATTLES!”

Oh ok, fine. [ps. I do pick my battles. Everything is relative and part of the battle for attention, trust, donor dollars]. Don’t take it from me, take it from someone celebrated as one of our time’s most progressive thought leaders. From Seth Godin’s “Writing The Review In Advance“:

The last click someone clicks before they buy something isn’t the moment they made up their mind. And our expectations of how this is going to sound, feel or taste is pre-wired by all of the clues and hints we got along the way.

We lay clues. That’s what it takes to change the culture and to cause action. The thing we make matters (a lot). But the breadcrumbs leading up to that thing, the conversations we hear, the experiences that are shared, the shadow we cast–we start doing that days, months and years before. 

That old metaphor is apt here: You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. Better yet, the first time you flirt with them.

Every single dollar that you’ve raised and will raise depends upon your narrative. Donors, like potential mates, have needs, expectations, baggage, the agency and ability to leave you for someone else… When it comes to matters of love, most of us are nit-picky to a certain extent. Others are happy to settle. Some are just out for one-night stands.

What level of connection are you trying to spark?

Sidebar: yesterday I overheard someone saying [in relation to dating] that they “just aren’t the type to ever put themselves out there”, well, I guess you get what you get then.

Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.
Split a piece of wood; I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

Replace the above “I’s” with “your narrative”.  Across every tangible and intangible touch point. Every interaction, or lack thereof is an ask. You’re always priming your audience.

May you continue to cultivate the joy of giving, unafraid to kiss the dirt.
AC
In the near future we will look a bit more at specific examples of exactly under “which stones” you should be looking. In the meantime, feel free to start with an old post “Take 15 – Are You a #chickenshit Fundraiser

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