If you’re asking “What can I do about the killing of young black men in the U.S.,” here’s the beginning of an answer.
My friend Tema Nemtzow wrote me, “I just got a call asking if I’d like to have a new source of selling insurance. When I told him that I don’t sell insurance, he asked me if I’d like to start!”
You may groan at this terrible telemarketing. But think a moment. Is your nonprofit acting the same way?
- Do you send the exact same message to longtime supporters and new acquaintances?
- Do you add people to your mailing list just because they live in the neighborhood and they have a lot of money?
- Are you constantly talking about what your organization does instead of what your audience cares about?
Too many nonprofits are making cold calls, even in our writing. We’re pitching “products” the person on the other end doesn’t want…and making it clear to her that we have no idea who she is. We need to stop being lame salesmen like the one who called Tema.
Get to know your audience, talk to them about what matters to them, and they will listen.
Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words.
Our nonprofit organization was hiring a development consultant. I had introduced the Executive Director to the perfect candidate.
But we nearly lost her–because the ED was too busy dealing with the crisis of the day to come to a final agreement and hire her.
The consultant called me and told me what was going on. She was concerned, even aggrieved. Did we really value her time? Was this how we expected to work together?
“Donna, I am so sorry,” I told her. “We really, really do want you. It’s just that we have been too stressed to take the actions that would reduce our stress–including hiring you.” She understood. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, I lit a fire under the ED, got her signature on the agreement, and supervised the consultant myself from then on.
You can learn from our mistakes. (We did.) Look at your actions as they appear to others.
- Are you unconsciously telling people they’re not important?
- Are you relying on a relationship before it’s really been built?
- Do you give people enough attention just when they’re getting to know you?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, slow down and communicate MORE.