Updated: Nov 29
When I moved to non-profit fundraising, I took the lessons learned from my sales career.
My husband and I just finished the last season of Schitt’s Creek. I loved it!
If you have not laughed along with the Rose family, the loss of their fortune, and the move to a small town…jump on Netflix today!
Catherine O’Hara plays the matriarch of the family. She is a former soap opera star with a love of outlandish statement clothing, an “interesting” speech style, and an extensive collection of wigs. She brought this large variety of wigs (they were her friends, and each had a name) with her when her family lost all they had and moved to Schitt's Creek.
When I packed my bags and moved from Radio Sales to Non-Profit Management, it was not long before I realized the skills that I had acquired would be coming with me to my new world: the lessons from years of selling intangibles; planning and executing events; and, of course, managing people (to name a few). Oh yes, and hitting and surpassing goals and budgets!
What is an intangible??
According to Merriam-Webster
something intangible: such as
an asset (such as goodwill)
“Selling” intangible products is really, really, really hard.
Why? You can’t touch it, you can’t smell it, and you can’t show it to your friends (at least in the beginning).
The question becomes, how do you make the intangible “real” from the very beginning when it comes to donor cultivation?
It starts with IMPACTFUL Storytelling and GREAT Questions.
In my first career, I would paint the picture of who our radio station listeners were, their age and habits, their loyalty to our station, and more.
It is up to you to share your organizations' mission story powerfully and purposefully.
For example, the "moment" which turned into this mission, who you serve, the impact your organization has, and what sparks your passion for the mission you represent (more to come in future blogs on this).
As for the questions…your goal here is to discover their passion for the mission, their reason for supporting your mission, and how they would like to see this passion come to life. In a nutshell, what is important to them.
For instance, is it important that others know they support a philanthropic cause and care about its mission…name on building, perhaps? Is it important to a corporate donor to engage their employees…could you create a concept that brings their team into your mission? And yes, more to come in a future blog on the importance of questions.
Bring their goals to life, and voila---your mission and their passion are very tangible.
More than once, I agreed to have a “remote broadcast” at a car dealer on a Saturday, and more than once, I watched the sales team eat the donuts or pizzas we ordered for all the potential car buyers who were going to show up.
Why? Because the client thought it was a good idea.
If you want your events to be successful and even magical for your mission, don’t let a donor design it for what they were looking for… create their participation, so they get what they need, and you stay on course.
For example, every year, the American Red Cross of South Florida hosted a 30-day “Show House.” This event would transform an older home into a palace through the work of high-profile interior designers. Most of the money raised was from entry fees of 35+ women who enjoyed lunching.
When we worked together at the American Red Cross, the Kat and Mouse (yes, this is where Amy and I worked together) decided that corporate sponsors had a huge opportunity to maximize exposure to this highly valued clientele for an entire month. We visited a 15-location woman’s clothing store. The owner was a very philanthropic individual but was looking for something extra that might direct their perfectly targeted woman to her store.
Idea! Since designers were making each room a magical vision, why not have her create a dream master bedroom closet filled with unique clothing and accessories. The prospect loved it, and we received a large sponsorship donation. She had women coming into her local store every day asking for the dress, blouse, or sweater they had seen in the American Red Cross Show House closet! We all benefitted and stayed within the “Show House” concept.
Taking this to the (your) people…
Many of the individuals hired into a radio sales team are young. They are right out of college and probably all secretly wanted to be DJs or talk show hosts, just like I did when I was 23.
As their manager, you often need to calm them down after hang-ups, rude clients, and failing to hit their budgets. If they do not get the training they need, they will burn out. If they do not have a coach, they will likely fail.
The same is true about non-profits. Amy Mauser and I started Team Kat and Mouse based on the need to stop turnover by training fundraisers to succeed. How to deal with hang-ups, disappointments, and more. How to be the best of the best prepared to pivot if needed because of, let's say, a pandemic.
Training and coaching are "gifts" a manager can give to their teams, but this "gift" will benefit you and your mission before too long.
The gift that keeps on giving…
There are three things (that there will be additional blogs about) that I learned, owned, and live by.
1. Asking the correct questions: You never have to “CLOSE” if you position your offering to meet the donor’s real goals
2. Math, Math, Math: Figure out your individual sales math. How many calls you need to make, how many you end up securing donations from, and the average donation you secure.
3. Keep adding new prospects to the funnel:
No matter how good you are—some will, some won’t, so what?! …NEXT!
So, what about Moira?!
None of this makes me quite the character that Moira Rose is: I don't wear wigs. I don't live in a motel. But, like Moira Rose, I did take the most important things with me when I moved.
Join us on our crusade to send Trained Fundraising Teams out to fund your mission.
Reach out to us at www.TeamKatandMouse.com