August Brunsman is speaking about fundraising right now. Here’s the talk, given elsewhere. If you do fundraising for a cause, I really do recommend it. August is one of the best in the biz at fundraising.
When I was with the SSA, I struggled at fundraising for a long time. I kept getting pointers from August, from Ashley Paramore, and none of it seemed to help. What finally fixed me is when I tried ignoring literally almost all of their advice. Me trying to be the consummate professional in a suit and saying all the right lines made me stiff and fake in appearance. When I dropped the pretense, threw on my jeans, and spoke as myself (which worried Aug because, well, I’m not the typical professional…sometimes I use profanity), I became very good at fundraising. It’s unfortunate this revelation came toward the end of my tenure with the SSA.
Moral of the story: people like sincerity. If you come at someone with a script, that’s immediately going to impact how sincere they consider you to be and that will automatically impact their trust. When I’m asking for money, I want them to be in the same room with another human being who they could just have a beer with, not a salesman using all the closing techniques they teach in workshops. People get asked for money all the time in the stock fashion, and one of the big reasons people are afraid of asking for money is because we know, from our own experience, that even for causes we like getting asked for money is often annoying. Solution: don’t be like all the other people making their fundraising pitch. Salesmen don’t usually say “fuck” because they’re very concerned with maintaining the professional, upstanding image. That is precisely why dropping an amusing f-bomb into the conversation is a great way to convince them that you’re a friend working for the same cause, and not a salesman.