Q: Dear Ms. Schwartz,
I work for Jobs for Maine's Graduates (JMG), a terrific nonprofit with powerful documented outcomes. We help at-risk youth graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workforce.
I have been “courting” a multi-multi-multi-millionaire whom is an acquaintance. I want to speak with him on investing (read that, funding) in our organization. He says he will take me out to lunch, “but maybe nothing else”.
He’s gruff but seems to like me. Even so, I am stuck at this “ call me in 2 weeks and I’ll take you out” plateau. He could make an amazing difference to our organization, especially as we are expanding to serve more youth and would like to start an endowment.
Clearly, I have to change my strategy. Any ideas?
Lisa Gardner, Communications Manager
A: Dear Lisa,
Thanks so much for raising this vital question. Believe me, it's one shared by many fundraisers and communicators with all kinds of goals.
The real issue here is connection (or lack of connection, in this case). It's totally out of your power, Lisa, to improve this gentleman's manners or stop his game playing. But what you can do is learn everything about him, because you need to connect before you convince. (Hat tip to Sam Horn for this powerful concept).
Once you know what his passions are, where he volunteers and/or gives, what his family members do for a living, where he went to school and college, you'll have much more to work with. Your next step is to figure out the connections between his passions and preferences and JMG's work. Perhaps some of your program's graduates work in the field in which your prospect made his living. Or attended his alma mater.
After you've pinpointed a few strong connections, invite him out for a site visit or lunch with a graduate that reinforces that connection. Far more effective to let him make and feel that connection, rather than trying to convince him of it.
Lastly, Lisa, if he refuses a few invites, move on!
P.P.S. More effective messaging is a priority for all organizations, and a key to convincing (when you get there). Learn how to craft the most essential message — your tagline. Download the free 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!