6 Ways to Train All-Org Messengers

The pressure is on to connect and mobilize your people as the world in which we work grows increasingly complex, crowded, and uncertain. Why not recruit folks already connected with your organization to help as marketing and fundraising ambassadors?

Your colleagues, board members, volunteers, and loyal donors have tremendous potential to strengthen relationships, drive participation, and raise money IF you launch this six-step training program:

1) Share a clear call to action
Get super-specific when you ask people to step up as organizational messengers. Break your request down into small, doable steps. For example, request they “email your five closest friends or family members to ask them to support our organization during this first-time matching gift campaign” or to “discuss your passion for our organization with friends next time you go on a walk or out for dinner, sharing email addresses for those wanting to know more with me at me@ourorganization.org.”

Vague requests such as “spread the word” or “help us meet our goals” are more likely to push prospective ambassadors away than to mobilize them for action! The clearer you are, the more doable your call to action for newbie messengers.

2) Design training to make it easy for your ambassadors to connect & motivate giving and the other actions you need most
The more comfortable your ambassadors are in sharing their passion and your organization’s impact, the more they’ll do it (and do it well). Ask folks who are already serving as “unofficial” messengers what their colleagues should know. Their success stories and flops make great training content.

Credit: Rachel Calderon

3) Uncover your ambassadors’ burning questions or greatest barriers to reaching out on behalf of your organization
When Rachel Calderon, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Central Florida Foundation, charged Foundation board members to serve as brand champions, she asked them to share their burning questions. Responses ranged from, “How come more people don’t know what we do and why?” to “How do we reach influencers in specific industries?”

Rachel’s query revealed collective nervousness (it’s comforting to know you aren’t alone) and enabled her to address gaps in knowledge and technique. Asking works far better than guesswork in uncovering what’s hold your ambassadors back. Keep those lines of communication wide open.

4) Build on your messengers’ personal passions

Credit: City Year L.A. Board Member Octavia Spencer

Fundraiser-extraordinaire Gail Perry shares a powerful approach to uncovering board members’ passions: “Why do you care?”

Gail asks board members to share what sparks their enthusiasm for your organization’s work. She finds that as your ambassador shares what fuels his passion for your cause and impact, “he re-ignites his own passion.” Win-win.

This technique works equally well for colleagues (it helps them connect their particular function with the bigger picture), donor, and volunteer messengers.

5) Guide ambassadors to share their passion with an ask
Build your team’s skill and confidence by sharing concrete examples of situations that are ripe for an ask.

  • What to say “as is” (your organization’s name, tagline, and positioning statement) vs. what to say in their own words (their own stories and the ask)
  • What to do when x, y, or z happens
  • Who to ask for help and how
  • What to do with any insights they gather from these conversations (invaluable for strengthening your marketing and fundraising approach). 

6) Motivate them to practice, practice, practice (and more practice)
The best way I know to replicate conversations is to create ultra-specific scenarios for your ambassadors to role-play. Ask them to break into pairs to role-play a few different scenarios you provide, taking each role so they get to stand in the shoes of their conversational partner. Then ask a few pairs to “present” to the group to spark more questions.

Practice typically highlights problem areas so you can lead your messengers through them. Most importantly, practice shifts the unknown into the familiar.

Now’s the time to select, ask, and train your ambassadors to jump on board to help meet your 2017 goals. Then launch them with this toolkit in hand, so they generate the greatest engagement, donations, and personal satisfaction possible. To teamwork!

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