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Thoughts on Getting People Behind-the-Scenes

A few years ago when I read Emmanuel Rosen’s “The Anatomy of Buzz.” One of his concepts involves getting people a peek inside the organizaiton. He comments on how we all love to “feel” like we’re getting a “behind-the-scenes” look at something. Even if we know it’s not really behind-the-scenes.

It brought to mind Walt Disney World’s “Keys to the Kingdom” tour I took back in ’98. For 5 or so hours, we walked “back stage” and saw all the secrets of the kingdom. We knew that we weren’t REALLY seeing all the secrets but it sure felt like they showed us alot. And for a person like me, that helped increase my enjoyment of the park on each subsequent visit.

In terms of the “Get R.E.A.L.” approach to asking for money, behind-the-scenes activities fit in both the “Engage” step and the unwieldy named “Live/Love/Like” step.

As you think about your Engage activities for the coming year, what can you do to include your donor prospects in a behind-the-scenes activity?

  • Can you host a gathering at your construction site and have the general contractor speak? Hard hats are terrific props for behind-the-scenes approaches.
  • What about a relaxed Q & A with your CEO? Perhaps in a Google Hangout.
  • What if you gave a tour of something you’ve always stayed away from touring–client homes, residence facilities, anything. I’m not advocating doing anything unethical. But all to often we go about business as usual because it’s easier.

My friend Shanon Doolittle talks about “missional moments.” She encourages nonprofits to look at activities they’re already doing, activities key to their mission. Then invite prospects or donors into these.

It doesn’t always have to be an event. At one institution, I created a monthly 1-page/2-sides newsletter for class reps called “Rep Rap.” I created it with a desktop publishing program template and photocopied them and sent them as self mailers. The informal nature of the newsletter made it feel like something hot-off-the-press.

Do you want to know my favorite part of the behind-the-scenes things? They often can be done with little or no expense. Given the very fact that it is behind-the-scenes, donor prospects expect it to not have the glitz and polish a regular activity would have.


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