A fundraiser has done a great job when a supporter truly connects with a cause that they care about. A fundraiser has done an excellent job when the supporter also understands the difference their contribution has made and is proud and inspired that their support has enabled the charity to make change happen.
The majority of people are not inspired by spread sheets, data and stats, They are not inspired by a rational business case. They are inspired when they feel something. Any fundraiser truly committed to raising as much they as they can for their cause will be working on their abilities to engage people emotionally as well as rationally. I’m not saying that the business case and the data are not important, the numbers must stack up, your evaluations must be robust and your finances transparent, but it is the emotional connection that inspires supporters decisions to help.
Great fundraisers work hard to connect themselves and be inspired about the cause that they fundraise for, because only when you are inspired can you inspire others.
So when at IFC last month, Marcelo Iniarra, Argentina’s guru of fundraising innovation showed me what he had been working on I got really excited.
He shared with me the story the work of the Temaiken foundation, an animal reintroduction program in Argentina. He showed me the release of, 2 Aguara Guazu (a species of wolf) back into their natural habitat.
I experienced this through 360 lens Virtual Reality glasses. I’ve not viewed something like this before, it was a rather emotional and all-consuming experience. You are totally immersed into another world as you see and hear the delicate animals take their first tentative steps to freedom and see the team who have been responsible for making it happen. And of course if I were viewing this in a different capacity, I would as a donor, have been part of that team that gave those animals their freedom back.
Virtual Reality (VR), also referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life, replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact in that world.
The New York Times is releasing a virtual reality app and is sending Google cardboard viewers to anyone who gets the paper delivered to their homes.
The app’s first film will be “The Displaced,” which follows the lives of three refugee children from South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. It’s produced in partnership with Vrse, the biggest player in VR documentary filmmaking and one of the best-known VR film companies.
Amnesty International started testing virtual reality with face-to-face fundraising in the streets of London. UNHCR has begun in Latin America.
For me the sight and sound experience was very powerful. However VR is not limited to just sight and hearing VR can create a total sensory experience which can also include touch, and smell.
How could you use the immersive VR experience to connect and inspire your team, your supporters and campaigners to your cause? I think there are huge possibilities and potential for testing this approach.
I think they are onto something. What do you think?
This blog was first published on UK Fundraising.
Good ideas do not just happen by themselves. Good ideas become real when people get together and make them happen. You might have all the budget you need, the best processes, robust frameworks and the latest technology, but if you do not have people inspired and motivated about the impact of the idea, quite simply, nothing happens.
Whether you are inspiring your donor to make a decision to give, persuading your manager to test your ideas, encouraging corporate funders to support your organization or motivating colleagues to get on board to with your project, the skill of inspiring and influencing others is crucial for your career development.
When I was a fundraiser at the NSPCC we had many case stories that we shared with donors about the work that the organization did and the difference their donation could make to children that had suffered abuse. The case stories were highly emotive, yet I was frustrated that I wasn’t getting good enough results. My manager gave me some excellent advice, to find my stories that I could tell in my own words, because only when I could connect with the stories could I connect and inspire others. I wanted to work at the NSPCC because I had previously been a volunteer Childline counselor. I started to tell stories about my volunteering, and how on every shift you spent some time on the switchboard. I shared how the calls just stacked up. We couldn’t answer them all. After sharing my experiences, when I asked donors if they would like the opportunity to donate to help us answer every call, many more said yes.
Persuading your manager
In your career you will have to influence your manager, perhaps to endorse your new idea, or to expand your experience through signing off a budget for a training course, or give you time to develop new projects. The day I shifted my mindset and acknowledged that part of my role was to help make my manager look good, my influencing abilities improved significantly. In my experience, people can be reluctant to take risks or try something new for fear of failure. So one of your influencing techniques with your manager is to give them confidence that the risk of failure is minimized and they will not lose face. You can do this by showing them what another manager, who is like them, that they respect, is doing that is working. Make it easy for them to say yes by suggesting a small test. For example I wanted to work with a new event supplier (when we had used the same one for many years), we tested the new supplier at one small event before making any big decisions, and it helped that another manager had worked with this supplier previously and recommended them.
You may have to encourage corporate partners to work with you. Inspiring them is about offering a win-win partnership. It is an opportunity for both parties to drive a positive and important change that you both care about – that also has the potential to increase both parties income. An example of this is the partnership that UCL has developed with major food retailers. Together, Iceland, Morrisons, ASDA and Waitrose have agreed to donate the new 5p bag levy to fund the £100 million shortfall in income for the world-class dementia research centre at UCL. The retailers have positioned themselves as partners working together to drive change about a cause that is increasingly important to their customers, which will impact on their brand perception and their bottom line.
Motivating your colleagues
People prefer to say yes to people they like. We also like people who are similar to us. You rely on your colleagues every single day. Yet how much do you know about them? Early in my fundraising career I had to work with the very overstretched database team on multiple projects. It was an understandably fractious relationship; we were all under a lot of pressure to deliver on many projects with conflicting deadlines. In the hope of building relationships I started going upstairs to their office to see them rather than emailing. One day I arrived at my colleagues’ desk at the same time as a delivery of shoes for a wedding they were going to. We spent 10 minutes trying on shoes discussing which would be most suitable with her dress. Others might have seen us and thought it was a frivolous waste of time, but after that the work got done more quickly, we had two-way dialogue about why I needed the data and we worked together to find the best way to get it.
The more you know about the people you want to inspire and influence, the more equipped you will be to think about the best way to approach them. You may not get it right first time, be resilient work out why it didn’t work and try again and keep trying because the only way you make your ideas happen is to work with and inspire others.
4 quick influencing tips
For more on influencing and making your ideas happen check out The Innovation Workout.
This blog was first published in October 2015 on the Guardian Voluntary Network.
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