It seems to me, that, more than any other fundraising discipline, major gift fundraising still has an air of mystery about it. Although not said openly, it’s implied that it is an art form, that only a chosen few have the natural talent to be successful at.
It’s an unhelpful myth, because I think it intimidates new fundraisers from developing their careers in major gifts and it pushes more experienced fundraisers out because they are fed up of the unrealistic expectations put on them to create miracles.
In Rob’s short and simple book (easily read on your commute to work), I think he goes a long way to debunk this myth. In fact, he suggests that all fundraisers no matter what discipline they come from can become persuasive and successful if they focus and practice what he calls the five laws of persuasion: decision, understanding, firepower, contrast and state.
In the book, we meet Claire, a fundraiser who is having a tough time because she is not getting the results she wants when she meets prospective donors and companies. She is someone I think we can all relate to; her experiences at her first fundraising conference certainly raised a smile with me. It is a narrative style that might not suit everyone, and to make the most of the book you need to be open minded and be prepared to ask yourself difficult questions. But, as Rob says at the beginning “most disciplines worth pursuing involve more skill and diligent practice than are obvious from the outside”.
Through Claire, Rob effectively challenges you to reassess what you currently prioritise as a fundraiser and coaches you to refocus on the laws of persuasion, reassuring you along the way through Claire’s experiences that this will get you better results. The laws can seem like common sense when you first encounter them, but when you really ask yourself how much time and energy you spend focusing on them in your day job, I would imagine most of us would have to be honest and say – not as much as we should.
The laws of persuasion
The law that resonates with me the most is the fifth law of state. Rob suggests that through careful practice we can take control of our state and change it, thus enabling us to exude confidence, influence and positivity on donors. The idea that positivity is not a natural trait but something we can train ourselves to be better at is a powerful idea for fundraisers. And, I think you can take it even further, not only using Rob’s techniques to influence donors, but also the state of your manager, your team, your board and even your organisation.
Reading this book is like having a little Rob Woods on your shoulder coaching you – like a fundraising fairy godmother giving you positive thoughts and tasks when you are stuck.
Reading this book is like having a little Rob Woods on your shoulder coaching you – like a fundraising fairy godmother giving you positive thoughts and tasks when you are stuck. It’s the ideal companion for any sole fundraisers with limited training budgets and anyone committed to their own development, as all the techniques are free to practice, they just take hard work. I also wish I had this book when I managed a fundraising team, because its full of tasks that you could set a junior member staff who needs to develop their confidence and influence in meetings.
The book even includes a step-by-step guide to how to ask for a large gift, essential reading for any of us, no matter how long we have been fundraising. More than anything I think that this book can help fundraisers to enjoy their jobs a little more and want to stick with it – which will be great for the sector.
The Fundraiser who wanted more: the 5 Laws Of Persuasion That Transform Your Results
by Rob Woods
Woods Training Limited
11 May 2015
This post was first published on the UK Fundraising website and is reproduced with their kind permission.