May 7, 2015

The newest testament


I attended a fundraising luncheon recently for a great local organization, with a great mission that does great work. Yet as I left the luncheon, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I could’ve written the agenda on my napkin before I ateand been 98 percent accurate on its contents.

It inspired me to review again the 10 TED Commandments.

If you sit on a nonprofit board or work as a communicator and provide support for fundraising luncheons (breakfasts or dinners, too), consider these 3 commandments:

  1. Thou shalt deviate from the formula 
    Welcome everyone, feed everyone, get a beneficiary to tell their heartfelt story and make an appeal. It’s a formula
    and it works. Change is scary. But I firmly believe change may help you sustain your event in the futureand maybe even grow donations.

  2. Thou shalt limit the tears 
    I don’t mean to sound insensitive. And I truly appreciate (and write checks to) a number of nonprofit and advocacy organizations. But I attended an event several months ago where several beneficiaries of the nonprofit organization were featured in a video, then one of the beneficiaries expanded on her “video story” in an additional “live” ask. Problem is, she became so distraught when telling her story in person, she broke down and sobbed. My suggestion: videotape the beneficiary and get an experienced speaker or board member to make the ask.

  3. Thou shalt use visuals to help your audience remember the most important stuff
    Reading from your PowerPoint slides or reading your speech is a clear violation of the 9th TED Commandment. Equally troubling: No visuals at all.

    I’ve been to three different fundraising luncheons in the past year, where a dynamic CEO or passionate board member shared important management lessons or key facts about their organization. Sadly, none of these speakers used visuals or PowerPoint slides to help me remember the sage advice they dished out. Remember, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text and 40 percent of us will respond better to visual information than plain text.