I’m reposting this nugget from the archives.
“Why do we cultivate people?” As Tom always reminds me, “Cultivation is that thing you do with plants and manure.”
I really, truly don’t understand ‘cultivation’. We are in the business of saving, changing and impacting lives. If you can help someone understand your impact then it’s really not about cultivation; it’s about asking whether or not they want to help you with your cause.
I always reduce this to a simple story in order to emphasize my point. Imagine that you and your prospect were walking around a lake and came upon a drowning child. What would that prospect do? It’s likely she would jump in with full commitment to save the life of the child (so would you). I can’t imagine a scenario where you would first try to spend years getting this person interested in saving children (read: cultivation).
So… if you’re saving or changing lives then you can’t really argue that we need more cultivation. I would propose that the issue at hand is really much more about communication. That is, how you communicate your impact in such a way that is clear, concise and compelling. So clear, in fact, the prospect jumps on board (read: into the lake) to make a major investment in your vision.
If you can communicate the impact, the income will follow. If you can communicate the impact, you can ask for any amount of money on the first (sometimes second) visit. The challenge, again, is that we struggle with our message. Or, we might even have the message, but we’re not out visiting with people, one-on-one, to share the message and present the opportunity for them to help (save the child – as it were).
Your job is to communicate the impact, not spread manure. I know that’s blunt but I want to motivate you to action with this idea. You’re doing great things… so present the opportunity for someone to help… now. So stop cultivating and start communicating.
Impact Drives Income: Half of our methodology focuses on helping you COMMUNICATE the IMPACT. If you can do that then it’s not about taking three years to make someone feel important enough to want to give. Your job is to take that three years down to 30 minutes – in many cases. You want someone to say, “WOW, this is INCREDIBLE IMPACT. HOW CAN I HELP?” (Then, you have to answer their question, not sprinkle with compost.)
PS – If you think my example is too simplistic or unrealistic please know that this same example is what set into motion the greatest philanthropist of our era – I’ve altered the lake example somewhat but stole that from noted philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer who wrote an amazing article last year in the New York Times: What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You? In that article he also explains Bill Gates’ moment of clarity around impact that moved him to action.