We welcome back Paul Jolly, Director of Jump Start Growth, Inc., a nonprofit fundraising and consulting firm in Washington DC. Today, Paul tells about the importance of breaking the sound barrier.
Back in 1947, US Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 rocket/plane. Fighter jets break the barrier with ease nowadays, but it’s not the only sound barrier that must be broken. The sound barrier that a fund raiser hopes to break through is the sound of his or her own voice. More times than I care to remember, I have sat in the living room or office of a donor, hauling newsletters and annual reports out of my briefcase, talking about programs, accomplishments, plans. Blah, blah, blah. I am waiting for a signal from the person across the coffee table or desk, and he or she is waiting for me to stop talking.
On the other side of the sound barrier is an actual conversation. Give and take. Back and forth. Of course, most donors want to learn more about programs and accomplishments and plans. But there is a very personal and specific reason that the donor selected your organization to support, a very personal and specific reason that the donor invited you into his or her space. If you can stop talking about programs long enough to find out what that motivation is, you will have crossed the sound barrier. It may be the programs, it may be something less tangible. The donor’s best self is represented by that gift. And when you honor that gift, you honor the donor’s best self.
So climb into that Bell X-1 plane and strap yourself in. See how fast you can break the sound barrier.
Paul Jolly of Jump Start Growth, Inc. can be reached at paul (at) jumpstartgrowth dot com and at 301.758.3410.