I have been slowly making my way through Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. it’s been a slow read because I have spent a lot of time digesting the content and looking for parallels in my work. I am happy to say that today was the first day that I applied something from this book and felt like I hit the nail on the head.
One of the themes that pops up throughout the book is the idea that we cannot create messaging that assumes our audience cares about our mission as much as we do. I will admit that I made that mistake in my work at ZUMIX. I fully understand how music shapes self identity and builds community because I experienced it. So, everyone would totally connect with this great organization if they saw a really great video of a youth ensemble rehearsal, right? I was messaging the mission with the assumption that people would love it, if only they knew, because everyone loves music. Thus, I was ignoring people who love youth development, technology, sports, food – all the people who aren’t like me.
We all expect our Board members to be brilliant advocates and fundraisers, right?
And I do believe that, for the most part, they truly want to be. But we tend to ask a lot of them. For the past three years I worked for an organization that looks to Board members for individual gifts, peer fundraising, and house party hosting. So, it is easy to understand that in the final quarter of the fiscal year, just when we are ready for a final fundraising push, these resources may be exhausted. In this situation it is easy for Board members to feel over-taxed and under-appreciated. To this end, I am happy to share a strategy that has been very successful over the past year.
Following a presentation on house parties at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network conference in October, the most common request I received from attendees was to share examples of language that can be used in an invitation. The text of the invitation is incredibly important, as this is essentially Ask #1. You want your invitees to know, without a doubt, that they are being invited to a fundraiser. With this clarity, your host can feel confident making Ask #2 in person, because all of the attendees know and expect that it will be coming.