Donors have an uncanny ability to sniff out how much you believe in the work of the organization. The closer the contact, the closer you are to face-to-face, the more likely the donor is spot the fire in your eyes (or the absence). Passion–that intense, unwavering, zealous belief in what you’re doing encourages (drives) donors to join with you in the cause.
Donors are drawn to authentic passion and vision.
Donors reach for their checkbooks when they see passion, vision and fire in a leader’s eyes.
Direct mail and other direct response channels create some distance but the reader will still notice a lack of passion. Great direct response copy is often gutted because of the lack of passion and drive. Frankly, I believe copy is changed often because of lack of baseline belief more than any other reason (assuming it was great copy to begin with). Of course there are other reasons good copy gets neutered, but lack of passion is the root of most bad edits.
Take a look at this video by the group Atomic Tom. Don’t know anything about Atomic Tom. I’m not endorsing them or their music, but watch a few minutes of the video. They had their instruments stolen (at least that’s the set-up for this video) and so they’re doing their art with what they have.
As you watch, check out the woman on the left side of the frame, behind the lead singer. I don’t think she’s part of the group. It’s fun to watch her get into it.
Assuming that this isn’t an incredibly good Apple stunt, these guys believe in their art. They’re performing on a moving train live in front of one of the toughest audiences in the world–New York commuters. And they’re great. And they’re having a good time. And at least some of the people on the train seem to be enjoying it.
You can see the passion and fire, can’t you?
At about 3:40 in the video, the lead singer gets after it with some high notes. You know, you really have to believe in what you’re doing to do that on a train full of strangers. Love it.
So how about you? Ready to give your elevator pitch on a New York train full of commuters? Ready to hit that high note in front of strangers…or donors? If so, go for it. Don’t hold back for a second.
If not…well that’s a different story. Short of telling you to dust off your resume, what can you do? One thing that will help is to spend some time at ground level in your organization. Walk the streets with your people. Be face to face with whoever’s life you’re changing. Talk to the men and women who are hungry or lost or need help…
Disconnect with bureaucracy, plans and admin. Connect with the heart of your work.
Hear for yourself, face-to-face how your organization is changing the world. Then tell your donors about it. Ignite the fire through direct contact with your service. You’ll have more stories to tell (and not about buildings or budgets).
If you’re changing lives, you’ll know. If you know, you can tell the stories. And that’s the high note your donors are waiting for.
How about you, could you pitch on a train full of strangers? Does that seem “beneath” you? If this sounds crazy, do you think that the work your NPO is doing is worth the risk of letting your fire burn out loud? Can’t wait to hear what you think.
***UPDATE 11/1/10 Atomic Tom made CBS Early Show! Good for them. Looks like that World Wide Rave thing works.
UPDATE: 11/1/2010: Turns out that the stolen instruments was part of the “video story” and didn’t happen. So it wasn’t as advertised. But the focus of this post is still correct, just a bummer that they took an easy road and made up a story that wasn’t true. It would have been just as powerful if they’d have skipped the “stolen instruments” angle.