The Force and Fundraising

The Force in Fundraising - Luke with blast shield down

Happy Star Wars Day!

May the 4th has become an unofficial Star Wars holiday, given the pun on "May the Force be with you." (Back in Catholic school, my friends and I would respond, "And also with you." Being extra witty--in my own mind--I replied "This is a reading from the Gospel of Luke.")

So today being May the 4th got me thinking about fundraising. Isn't that the first thing you think of? :)

The Force in Nonprofit Fundraising

As I think about what "the force" is in fundraising, "expectation" immediately comes to mind.

In the Star Wars movies, the Jedi characters "feel" the direction things are moving and are able to respond based not on sight but on insight. So too with fundraising.

So much of what we do is based on

  • sensing where the donor is at,
  • sensing what choice is appropriate for the initial ask,
  • sensing when to stop a solicitation and save it for a later day.

And many times we fee like we're as blind as Luke Skywalker is on the Millenium Falcon with the hood covering his eyes and a flying metal ball shooting lasers at him.

Use the power of the force

But I think the real power of the force is in expectation. Expectation dictates how we approach prospects, how we draft fundraising letters, how we involve volunteers. If we expect people to be annoyed by our "begging," they feel it and respond in kind. (Remember, you're not begging!)

But if we expect people to want to be involved in our cause, imagine them as waiting for someone to show them how their lives can have even more meaning, we approach people with a boldness can be contagious. Granted, too much boldness can become obnoxious, but that's a line we need to tread as we seek funding for our cause.

So on this Star Wars Day, pay attention to the force of expectation in your work. Are you expecting good things from your next interaction? Or are you expecting it to fail?

It takes the same amount of imagination to expect good outcomes and success as it does to expect bad outcomes and failure. So "use the force" to help you do tremendous amounts of good today!

What other parallels do you see with the Star Wars universe and the practice of nonprofit fundraising?

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear!, director of The Nonprofit Academy, and founder of FundraisingCoach.com. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Marc – You crack me up. May the force be with you too. :-)

    On a slightly more serious note, so glad you talked about expectations. In addition to positive expectations related to fundraising, there should be an expectation that our organization’s programs will impact people’s lives. That is so key to obtaining people to partner with us as we work to change the world.

    Happy Star Wars Day :-)

  2. What a funny – but very true – analogy! Donors need to be compelled to give, and the organization must approach them wisely and confidently. Thanks for the post.

  3. Thanks Kirsten and Jon!

  4. Love it! I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the first movie premiered in the 70s.

    I agree with Kirsten about expectations. They either make it or break it when it comes to fundraising.

    Sandy Rees

What would you add?