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Psychology

I saw a session once at a conference once upon a time where people tried to pitch, in that way in our head we all think of as a pitch – formal, stand in front of, presentation etc. Well, here’s the truth. They couldnt and they didn’t. I remember sitting there thinking what have I just seen. It was, well, just plain bad. It set me thinking.

I’ve watched over time, a creeping loss of the skill and art of pitching. It’s been replaced by tools, digital, social media. Its been overlaid with brand and ‘key messages’. Its been undermined with a lack of trust. Its been eroded by a world more connected that ever and equally much less connected. I’ve watched fundraisers under pressure to connect and reach out on one hand and on the other paralysed with fear. Of course I’ve seen some pitching genius through this. I’ve watched street and face to face fundraisers do amazing things to engage and pitch under extreme conditions. I’ve seen major gift fundraisers pitch big projects of change, real dreams and huge opportunities. I’ve seen Community fundraisers connect on every level. But if I’m honest it’s not the norm, and whats out there is sometimes not up to it.

The word pitch is a loaded word in fundraising. There is the tribe who hates it. There is the tribe who relish it. There is the tribe that haven’t thought about it. But how can a new relationship with pitch, help us become a bit more deliberate, to lean in a bit, to show some confidence, to ask again with some flair.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary pitch means a speech or act that attempts to persuade someone to buy or do something. In this context, its pretty innocent and quite simple. The issue for the haters of the word is that sell is there. The connotation that as fundraisers we are selling, rather than having meaningful conversations, feels like it undermines the purity we strive for in the fundraising process. For this tribe its loaded understanding reinforces what we are not, rather than what we may be. I was at AFP Toronto, and the day before I was doing a session on pitching to the brilliant Canadian fundraising community, we had a discussion in the bar about the word pitch. A story about a board member whose commercial instincts were flowing, had stated that we must pitch, only to be challenged that we shouldn’t pitch, we should begin conversations. We explored the motives and the barriers. As always, right and wrong blur.

A few days later I recounted the story to another revered fundraiser who took a completely opposite view. Maybe the definition was in the traditional space we know, a pitch presentation to a company but the relish was there and a clarity that to pitch was what we did and do. Own it. So, the word pitch is polarising. But if we allow it to bring its baggage in then we do ourselves an injustice. We need a new confidence and a new sense of purpose.

If you look at the landscape of fundraising, the most obvious pitchers are face to face fundraisers in the street. Perhaps that’s why it provokes equal Marmite reactions. A pitch can feel disruptive and people don’t like to feel pitched at. In the commercial world, the redefinition of pitch is also taking place. Its loaded sense of ‘selling’ turns off people and entrepreneurs are equally seeking to engage, inspire and intrigue, to build rapport and relationship and solve customers problems rather than simply sell. But this distinction is hard to sometimes see, and here lies the problem. If we allow ourselves to be too soft in our approach, then we stop leaning in, we lose the deliberate process that an old-fashioned pitch used to have. That perhaps is why we feel more comfortable in a presentation to a company for a charity of the year – its whats expected, but what about every day.

So the opportunity is to use the sense of a pitch in a new way and much broader way, mixing the deliberate goal of engaging and asking with the inspiration and conversation we are good at. All too often we find ourselves reacting to supporters, servicing them and nurturing those that raise their hands rather than go out and get new supporters by being the ones to start a conversation. Street fundraisers have to lean in – how can we take some of that in all our other areas, just enough to rediscover a new purpose for pitching in fundraising that enhances and inspires.

As I have explored this subject I have noticed that when we understand how people react to a pitch, we are in a much better place to learn how to do it in a way that is right for us and right for the supporter.  Looking at the many ways commercial pitches are made and matching them to our world I have created 7 steps to a great fundraising pitch. It gives us a deliberate framework and mindset so we can be more proactive at a time when we need to be, but in a way that is right for the fundraising process, but it also takes account of the science of the pitch, how people hear and receive and the right and wrong way to connect to be heard and to inspire action.

If you’re interested in taking a day to rediscover how to pitch in your fundraising, to move you and your team to a more proactive approach with more confidence using a step by step framework, then join me for the Pitch Driven Fundraising Workshop on the 6th February and I’ll show you how to become proactive, deliberate and focused on your everyday fundraising to engage more people and organisations to support you. For more information click, here. Places are limited.

If we can rediscover some confidence and apply the right tools, then we can reach out, inspire people and raise more money. Lets learn to pitch for good.

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When Remember a Charity was born, the founders took a leap of faith. With no immediate return they could see that working together, there was a chance that a campaign might just be able to grow the market in the future. Looking back we should applaud them – because that is exactly what they have done. And more. And not just in the UK.

Remember A Charity has evolved in that time. Honing a model and approach that has embraced behaviour change or social marketing, the campaign blends consumer campaigns with leverage through partnerships and uses its member base to amplify and engage. The campaign returns this month with Remember a Charity in your Will Week from the 12th-18th September. The campaign will call on the British public to pass on something legendary, tweeting their advice for future generations at #MyWisdom and remembering a charity in their Will. 2016 marks the seventh year of Remember A Charity’s legacy giving week, during which charities, Government, solicitors and Will-writers will all come together to encourage the public to leave a gift to charity in their Will.

The bottom line is that more people are actually doing it. From 12% in 2007 to 17% in 2014 and a further increase this last year as the campaign has just reported. This is the sort of news that every member of the campaign throughout the last 14 years should take a moment to reflect on and celebrate. Momentum brings further momentum. I am writing this, just finishing a week in Australia speaking to brilliant legacy fundraisers through the Australian campaign Include a charity. They are making real progress too. Last week I spoke with a revised Dutch campaign about a new phase in their journey. And as a former Remember a Charity chairman and now working globally with charities on legacies, there are a number of countries with new campaigns and each are taking key steps to start to change behaviour and increase the number of gifts in wills in their countries.

Baby boomers are estimated to be worth $46 trillion USD of wealth and over the next 30 years or so will hand on this wealth to a new generation. Charities everywhere have a strong case to give these generous people who have given to charity in life the chance to leave something after they have gone. This is not a leap of faith anymore. Its a global movement. So don’t forget to take part in the campaign. #MyWisdom awaits your wisdom and your contribution.

Remember a Charity now has its own legacy. We all join charities to change the world. And this campaign might just do exactly that.

 

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Middle managers. Salt of the earth. Engines for action. Guardians of delivery. Middle managers need love and attention if they are to do what needs to be done to make things happen. Coaching, nudging, counselling and direction.

The leadership deficit affects middle managers. Unsure of above they can’t shine for below. Looking sideways they find solace in colleagues so they often look like a gang, projecting a tribal confidence. Sometimes they struggle because they are over promoted. Sometimes they struggle because they are too talented but locked in. Sometimes they just long to get on with it. Deliver and excel. Glow.

So here’s some helpful wisdom and tips for the much-needed tribe of middle managers

1. Keep looking above you – understand your boss and their needs and challenges. If you fail they fail. Help them.

2. Keep learning. You must grow. It’s your duty to yourself, so keep learning and improving

3. Build space for yourself. Room to think and reflect. Space to resolve and perspective to get it right

4. Be self-aware and open. Ask for feedback. Every now and then only, or you will look needy rather than open. Be aware of how you behave, why and when and correct where you need to

5. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Do them every day. Don’t worry about your weaknesses except if you are doing a job that is your weakness. If so move.

6. Define success – Be clear on what success looks like. You, them, everybody.

7. Focus on next but never forget what’s gone – Have a view on whats next but also what’s past – goals and KPIs, a to do list yes but more important a rolling done list

8. Build your portfolio – Your marketing brochure for you, your personal brand and offer and evidence

9. Listen to your people – They are smart. Not always right but that’s irrelevant. Listen to facts, emotion, feelings, fears and hopes. Then act.

10. Focus everyone on the external – Heres the order to where you need to look – the world, the donor, the cause, the work, the organisation, the team. Everyone works better when they focus on what really matters

Rise up middle managers. Lead from the middle. More power than anyone – so use it wisely and for the right reasons.

 

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As we find the way forward in fundraising we need to remember the past and present. Motivation. The core of human achievement and where we must always be.

There is no science to this other than experience, instinct and observation. But here are 9 motivators for fundraising. The drivers we need to understand and be along side.

  1. Love of – The prime driver. Love of a cause, person or experience
  2. Dare – A gauntlet thrown down and picked up
  3. Challenge – A quest to prove. A test for oneself or family or friends. A personal test
  4. Change – To create change in something or someone
  5. Build – To make something new
  6. Save – A saviour, to keep something special and of value, to stand up for
  7. Repair – Restore, put right, fix and establish in a new world what was once
  8. Belong – To join in and be part of, a gang and community together
  9. Guilt – Fear, guilt as a driver that is the least attractive but real and alive

Motivation is what makes change and fundraising can be the route to make the most change – personally as well as together

listening

There is an essential logic in fundraising. Hearts, minds and cash. The mantra for this is no gift is made without emotion to drive it.  The moment you connect. A close spark or bond created. This remains true above all with legacy gifts. But we often focus on function first – wills, probate, tax. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we don’t  understand. Maybe we don’t know. Either way it’s not where transformational legacy gifts sit and it’s not where donors start.  Here’s 10 emotional connections for legacy fundraising to get you connecting

  1. Find your founder story and relive it though the eyes of your founders
  2. Systematically collect and share stories
  3. Recognise long-term consideration of a gift will start with an emotional connection
  4. Understand the motivation for giving is emotional and won’t always be remembered
  5. Teach your organisation to be able to have a legacy conversation as you would to a trusted friend
  6. Show the work and the inspirational transformation made by legacy gifts
  7. Join up legacy admin so its part of the gift process and joy of giving
  8. Do everything possible to make face to face happen
  9. Reassure donors about their fears and barriers – soothe them
  10. Find and use your own personal connection to legacies

So – uncover the emotion, dig deep, be brave, open your hearts – but above all, connect.

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At the heart of every legacy gift is always a story. It’s a currency that runs strong and is rarely devalued. Sometimes visible, most often not. Sometimes shared, sometimes celebrated. But most, if we are honest are forgotten, if found at all.

Presenting on legacy strategy recently, I focused on the power of story. One questioner from the floor, asked what was needed to find stories. How can you collect and where from? I told her that they are all around and we just need to be mindful and then ask the question. Look to your donors, executors, volunteers, programme staff, founders and fundraising staff. Ask them, train them and give yourself a place where you collect and share.

Later in the day, the very brilliant Michael Clark from Cystic Fibrosis Trust, was talking about why gifts can come from people you don’t know or have never met and that for them they had a connection we will often never know. He talked of a very large gift from a man who was not known to them but on his death he had shared his reasons for the gift in his will.

One day he was sitting in a park and watching the world go by on a break when his peace was disturbed by a young child whose cough was loud, consistent and disturbing to him. He asked the mother if the child was alright. The mother told him her son has Cystic Fibrosis and this was level of coughing was normal and daily. She thanked him for asking and disappeared from his life. A moment he never forgot. And from that a legacy gift and from that a legacy story.

There is no marketing involved here, except the moment when that donor sought out the charity as the means to make the gift. It was a human moment that germinated for a long time. A human moment driven by a story and connection.

Stories and connections are our currency.  How much better would we be if we were just able to ask, listen and share?

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Having my heartbroken at Starbucks…

Drinking a latte, overlooking the platform in Starbucks at Paddington. Watching the bustle of travel and journeys that we make, we rarely get an insight into the lives of the people who make these journeys. Sometimes, a snatched conversation you hear, an observation, a connection allows you a tiny glimpse, fleeting. Mostly its all anonymous.

But over my latte with the luxury of a late train, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation next to me. A lovely, well spoken lady sat with a small curly-haired boy aged about 10. She was talking to him about his choices. In reality of course he didn’t have many at 10. As the snippets flowed it was hard not to simply crane my neck and listen, rather than pretend I could’nt hear. “You don’t have to …” she said. “I know how hard this is for you, but try it and see and if not change next September”. The boy looked pale, sad, a sea of emotion underneath his face. “I am so sorry but I have to go back to work….I am so late……” she said …..“You have been so good about it all….”

I gathered my things and finished my drink. As I stood, our closeness, my face and my place in their world was recognised by a smile from her. I was part of this now. I smiled back. For a moment, it looked like she was asking for help. I looked at the boy as I buttoned my coat. “You’ll be prime minister one day…and you can tell everyone else what to do”…..I said, mustering a can do and my best lift in opposite effect to what I actually felt. He smiled as if he had caught the lift . “I moved to London and he lives with his Dad…” She said. I smiled back and then told him about some experience I had a long time ago and that one day he would be ok but I guess its tough. I had already crossed a line but they both seemed slightly relieved. A stranger breaks the circle.

Anyway, I thought about this moment. Thought about it a lot. Especially at holidays times. I wondered about them and him. But more than that I wondered about how strangers can find themselves part of an intimate moment and how, when they are, they do nothing … It’s not my business….

But then I wondered. What if it was?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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