I was on a coaching call yesterday with a fantastic Development Director. We’re about a month out from a very productive message building session with senior team, program staff and a few board members. During the session, the big a-ha was “We’ve always thought that what we do is too complicated to explain to people but it doesn’t have to be!” Today, the DD finds herself back in a place where the team (with the best of intention) is still tweaking words on the Engagement Tool.
There a many reminders for the team here:
Don’t make a funder WORK HARD to understand what you do and why you do it. (read more here.) Ask questions and listen. What they say is more important than what you say.
Start with Why. Don’t skip this even if you think they know – especially with existing funders. “Why has this impact been meaningful to you?” or “Why have you been funding us for the last 5 years?”
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. The person you are with won’t always understand every detail about every program you do and that is okay. Use the Rule of 3 for communication and clarity.
Engage and then plan. You will learn more from a prospect about what words are working than you will trying to get consensus within the team. Get out of the office and test the message. It will result in real conversation and real dollars.