For Impact



Story | | Nick Fellers

Most people (not ‘nonprofit people,’ just people in general) don’t know HOW to engage… how to create engagement… how to be deliberate in communication so that the other person is engaged. And yet, we always hear that you want more engaged customers, staff, funders, relationships and board members!

First, let’s define ENGAGEMENT: a dynamic within a relationship which holds attention, heightens interest and motivates action.

Attention! Interest! Action!

How do we maximize Attention, Interest and Action? How do we MAXIMIZE ENGAGEMENT?

  1. Ask Questions. Then Listen. Or, Just Listen. No better way to engage than to listen. Also, when a person speaks it engages his or her brain fully.
  2. Be 1:1. It’s tough to listen to a room of 200. Heck, it’s hard to listen to 12 board members at a meeting!
  3. Use Visuals! They are several studies, but all conclude that visual learners make up more than half of our population!
  4. Better than Visuals, Create a Memorable Experience. If a picture is worth a 1000 words than a tour or an experience with your impact is worth many more.
  5. DRAW! Create a visual experience with the prospect. We love using 2’x3′ ENGAGEMENT TOOLS – these make the case for support visual and they offer plenty of white space in which to draw while you’re visiting with someone. Picture two people standing over a blue-print – Pointing, Talking, Moving – giving your case meaning. This is Engagement.
  6. Predispose. Predisposing someone to your visit or your conversation provides clarity ahead of the visit – making it easier to hold attention and create interest.
  7. Be Simple. We need order. We need simplicity. If things are complex, you’ve lost my attention because I’m trying to figure out what you’re saying.
  8. Be Specific with an Ask. If the stated goal is to create action then you need to let the other person know what the action looks like. Being specific in an ask directs attention and let’s me know what action to contemplate. In the funding sense, you must ASK in order for me do something.

If we focused on ENGAGING in this way:

  • We would worry much less about ‘what to say’ and instead think about what questions to ask.
  • We would probably burn Powerpoints in effigy and stand around flip charts with markers instead.
  • We would ditch ‘special events’ in favor of one-on-one, engaging visits.