Transformational gifts are not always the largest gifts. Sometimes a commitment made at the right time – early in a project, or perhaps when a campaign is stalled – can be transformational.
When funding for a project is unclear, or when funders are not coming through with commitments, confidence can decline. On a team this often manifests itself in the form of more meetings, lack of team cohesion, and increased turnover. We cannot overstate the importance of confidence – for individuals, for your advancement team, for your complete enterprise.
The nonprofit sector is the largest sector of our economy. We would love to be able to calculate the lost productivity, or lost output, due to uncertainty, fear, or simply a lack of clarity that arises from (or, in many cases, produces) a lack of funding.
We’ve witnessed how a gift commitment at the right time can provide more than just momentum – it can transform a team and an enterprise. It can validate the vision and trigger a state of flow in an organization. In the funding function, this translates into increased confidence in the story, more presentations, more asks, and more revenue.
There are times when we can share the internal uncertainty with a funder – to talk about the impact the commitment could have on the psychology of the team. Any funder that’s ever had to lead will understand the importance of validation, clarity, and the morale boost that follows.
In a way we’re saying, “Your impact is not only going to be on the kids, or homes, or projects. It’s going to have a very, very real impact on our team. They have been putting in long hours, fighting for this plan.”
It takes a particular command and control to share this kind of message with a funder. It’s not about showing weakness. It’s… a real opportunity to transform. This is the kind of thing we mean when we talk about being ‘a real partner’ with the funder and standing ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.
So, transformational gifts can be about something other than huge gifts that give scale; they can be about well-timed funding commitments that give confidence. Confidence and team-cohesion is TRANSFORMATIONAL.
We help social entrepreneurs and really cool organizations implement a true sales model for philanthropy. The word SALES is supposed to grab your attention!
“You’re in sales, get over it.” – Tom Suddes
Most of us got into this work for the IMPACT, not the fundraising… and certainly not ‘SALES’!!! But ‘SALES’ holds the key to resourcing the impact we want to have. Pat Williams and Jim Denney are co-authors of some the world’s great leadership biographies – from Bear Bryant and Coach Wooden to Mother Theresa. Here’s how Pat Williams writes about Walt Disney as a salesperson. Note: I’ve pulled dozens of nuggets out of the book and threaded them together. As always, just read the book – How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life
Virginia Davis (Walt’s original Alice) told Pat that Walt Disney was a great salesman: “The more I examined Walt’s life, the more I saw what a profound insight this was. From the very beginning of his career, Walt was a salesman— one of the greatest salesmen the world has ever known.”
Many people look down on selling as somehow beneath them. I hope you don’t make that mistake. All the wealth in America can be traced to the fact that somebody somewhere sold something to somebody else. Selling is one of the most honorable professions around— and one of the most rewarding. It is also one of the toughest. What does it take to be a great salesperson? I would suggest five qualities that every great salesperson must have. Build these qualities into your life and you can sell like Walt. Those five qualities are honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, courage and persistence.
Honesty.All great salespeople are honest. Does that surprise you? That’s probably because you have been raised on the stereotype of the fast-talking used-car salesman in the plaid jacket. Sure, shysters abound, and they give a bad name to the honest salespeople who make their living by trading value for value. But the best salespeople are people of integrity. A great salesperson lives on repeat business. The key to repeat business is trust, and the key to trust is integrity. Anybody can sell to one customer one time. A great salesperson builds relationships of trust on a foundation of truth.
All great salespeople are fired up about their product. Enthusiasm is contagious; it affects everyone around you. How did a twenty-year-old cartoonist convince a group of Kansas City businessmen to part with $15,000 so he could open his studio? Enthusiasm! Voice actor Corey Burton told me, “
Walt was excited about his projects, his movies, his theme park. When he was excited about something, his excitement fired up everyone around him. That’s how he sold his dreams.” Disney film editor Norman “Stormy” Palmer recalls Walt’s power to motivate. “Walt’s enthusiasm made over-achievers out of all of us,” he told me. “You got caught up with his energy, you believed in his ideas, and you wanted to please him. He transmitted his excitement to all of us. If it hadn’t been for Walt, there would have been a lot of times we would have settled for less than our best.”
Confidence. Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice. Even if you don’t feel confident, you can still adopt an attitude of confidence. You may not be comfortable selling yourself or your product, but so what? Nobody is comfortable selling. Nobody ever became successful by staying within their comfort zone. If you want to succeed, you have to do what Walt did: take a big, confident step outside your comfort zone, and start selling your dreams.
Courage. Psychological studies show that high-achieving, successful people are not overly concerned about what others think. This was true of Walt Disney. He never catered to his critics. He never worried about rejection. He kept selling his dreams. 5. Persistence. Walt absorbed the blows and soldiered on, fueled by a total and utter belief that his vision was right. Walt was successful because of one rock-solid Midwestern value. It’s called perseverance.
It’s worth bottom-lining these three gems:
The best salespeople are people of integrity.
Enthusiasm is contagious.
Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice. (Write this one on your MIRROR!)