Travelling home from delivering my Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Writing Strong Applications course recently I found myself sitting with a lively young woman who had attended. “You know what I thought was the best thing you said all day?” she asked. My ears trembled in anticipation. “You said that humans are human” she said. I was delighted.
I wouldn’t like to second guess exactly what she had in mind when she said this, but I think it had something to do with the realisation that fundraising is not some alien activity, outside the normal parameters of our social experience, but simply a business of drawing other humans into the excitement that we feel for a particular cause, project or opportunity.
Whether writing an application to a trust, drafting copy for our website or contemplating a chat with a prospective donor, we can all get tied up in knots and reach for language that we would not dream of using when chatting to a friend over a cup of coffee or a glass of something. We work ourselves up into a panic wondering how we can ‘cultivate’ a particular ‘prospect’ and then ‘make the ask’.
The answer is: only by being ourselves. When we speak from the heart, when we use ordinary words, when we let people feel the passion that we feel, are we most likely to touch the spot that triggers every act of generosity – the heart of the other person.
What do you think? How easy do you find it to ‘be yourself’ as a fundraiser? Authenticity is really everything.
Ruth Jarratt’s next training session on Planning a Fundraising Strategy will take place on the 30th October at Artsadmin, London. You can find more details here: http://bit.ly/1vjXZfX