My youngest just turned sixteen.
So I found myself looking through old pictures, remembering a chubby little guy who is now neither.
My visit to old times reminded me of inside voices.
When each of my kids was little, I tried to explain the difference between inside and outside voices. Outside voices could be LOUD. But a tired mommy needed quiet voices inside. (She didn’t always get them.)
We have inside and outside voices at our organizations, too.
You know the difference: what you talk about in the lunch room versus what you talk about at the annual meeting. What you share with co-workers and what you share with donors. The messy reality of everyday life and the slightly more polished reality you present to the outside world.
But sometimes, we slip.
When you talk to donors about your annual fund goals and expect them to be moved, you’re using your inside voice. Those goals matter a lot to you. They don’t mean anything to a donor without context.
And if you can provide context, why not skip the goals and go right to the cause?
What does a gift mean? What changes? If you don’t raise enough money, what could happen?
That’s where the donor gets interested. Because that’s where the donor is involved.
Your inside fundraising targets, your fiscal year – those are important ways to organize your work and motivate your staff. They provide a structure to make you more successful. But they’re just for you.
But they’re just for you.
Outside voices for kids were when you could be boisterous and loud.
When you’re talking to your donors, your outside voice is for being boldly emotional. Speak up about the problem you want to solve. Take your donor by the shoulders and show her what she could accomplish by donating.
Be wildly transparent about your progress – but keep it in terms that an outsider would appreciate. Put it in perspective.
When it’s OK to let inside out
Sometimes, you should share that inside scoop with your donors.
- The conversation you had with someone who benefits from your programs? Ask if you can share the quote.
- The scene you witnessed that makes your heart swell? Tell the story.
- The anecdote that sums up what giving has made possible? Share it.
Share it in a personal way for even greater effect. Send a personal email to your dearest donors the day you have something to share. Let them into your successes – and even failures. Give them the news first.
It’s good to treat donors to your inside voice. Just make sure it’s your best-behaved one!
Photo credit: Joshua Earle