People are more likely to be persuaded by people we like.
So, no matter how worthy your cause is, if your supporters don’t like you, they won’t make major and planned gifts to your employer.
Here are 7 simple ways to engender fondness for you and your nonprofit’s cause:
1. Be a chameleon – In other words, take the time and put forth the energy to look the part. If you work at a University and your donors love the football team, hopefully, you do too. Even if you didn’t graduate from the same school, wear their colors, put the team pin on your lapel and throw a bumper sticker on your car. If instead, your employer’s cause is to help improve the environment and its donors wear khaki’s and t-shirts, you should do the same. Showing up in a formal suit with shiny black shoes will only make them feel uncomfortable. Fundraising chameleons hearten trust.
2. Use the law of reciprocity – First, know that the most successful salespeople, customer services representatives, account managers and, of course, fundraisers genuinely like people and are good at making people feel liked. They know that their recommendations and proposals will be appreciated, evaluated and taken seriously if their recipients feel that they are coming from someone who likes them and is looking out for their best interests. Among the easiest ways to signal to people that you like them is to give them something. Pay them compliments, say their name aloud, or bring them gifts they’ll enjoy. Whatever your tactic, make sure it’s genuine. Don’t try to con your donors. You can’t fake liking. If you try to fake your giving, you’ll be exposed and rejected.
3. Be cooperative – Fundraising needs to be a win-win. So it’s important that you cooperate with your donors to help them achieve their goals. Then, and only then, will you achieve yours. Napoleon Hill, author of the best-selling book Think and Grow Rich said it best, “You can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”
4. Be familiar – Your donors might meet you but forget they did. Then they’ll meet you again, and forget again. Don’t be dismayed. They’re busy. And besides, it’s not their job to remember you. But it is your job to remember them and to make sure you become familiar to them. Why not include your picture on your website? Also, maybe you should consider including it at the bottom of your emails below your signature. If you do it right, familiarity won’t breed contempt, it will help you raise money.
5. Show ‘em that you know ‘em – As a direct marketer for the past 25 years in the Washington, DC area I came to know Cal Sutphin, the co-owner of Braden Sutphin Ink Company. Everyone knew Cal and he knew everyone. He was famous for two things. He always wore a red tie and he remembered everything about everyone in the region. When he passed by he’d always say hello to me, “Hello Greg.” But he wouldn’t stop there. He’d ask, “How’s Nessa and the kids, Landon and Madison?” Then he’d continue by asking, “Madi must be in middle school, right? How’s she liking the change?” He was amazing; he was loved by everyone. And he sold a lot of ink! Then, after he retired in 2013 he wrote a book titled Red Tie’s History of the Printing Industry that includes the names of 9,120 prominent people from the industry; 1,554 companies; 363 stories from people he interviewed; and 591 photos. Whether it’s done face-to-face or via communication channels like email, remembering small details about people, makes them feel special. Be like Cal. Show ‘em that you know ‘em.
6. Smile more – Smiling implies warmth and happiness. Of course, donors like to be around people who are warm and happy. Smiling can actually improve your mood too. Plus, you have been granted an unlimited number of smiles so you can give them away for free. So, smile more and you’ll feel good. Plus you’ll make your supporters feel good too.
7. Listen… a lot – When I was a kid, I was told that all of us were given two ears and one mouth and we were to use them to listen at least twice as much as we speak. If you listen a lot with the intention of learning, not as you merely wait your turn to reply, you’ll help your donors show you the way forward. Focus on them. Let them tell you how they feel and what they want. Only by doing so will you have a chance at matching up their interests with programs that need funding.
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