I got inspired this morning. I was reading Seth Godin’s latest blog post, entitled “Who says go?” The blog post is 3 sentences long – but it’s powerful. And it made me think of you.
Essentially he says that most people want to follow other people who exude confidence. People are looking to say, “YES!” to you if you can lay out a plan and tell them how they can make something happen.
This is true of donors – even donors of great wealth will want to follow you.
There’s one trait of an MGO that tells Richard and me which ones are going to be great instead of ordinary: the great ones exude confidence. They can approach a donor and, by the time the MGO is finished talking, the donor is ready to whip out his checkbook and help change the world right there.
Do you have this confidence when you are with donors? If not, what is keeping you from having it?
Here’s the thing: while many people are born with a certain amount of confidence, we know for a fact that it can be learned and rehearsed. Yes, you can practice to become confident.
Think about it. A great opera singer might have a certain level of ego and a gift of a voice that allows them to be in front of great crowds, but the only way they gain confidence in their craft is by practice, practice and more practice.
The same can be said of great MGOs. Yes, you might be an extrovert and love people, but it takes a ton of practice to develop enough confidence in your mission and approach so that donors are willing to follow you. Since this is so important, I offer these three tips for you that will help you to get others to follow you and say, “yes!”

  1. Know your mission and programs — Too many MGOs think they can wing it without doing the proper homework on what their non-profit actually does. I don’t care how long you’ve been in the business, you cannot “wing it” when it comes to conveying the program or project you are trying to get a donor to fund. You may have confidence to be in front of people, but if you don’t have complete mastery of the subject matter there is no way a donor is going to follow you and say “yes.”
  2. Role Playing — I don’t know why MGO’s don’t do more of this. But before you go and talk with donors, we strongly encourage you to practice what you are going to say and do. The more you practice this, the more confidence you will have when you are actually in front of a donor because you will not only be prepared with what you are going to say, you will be prepared to address all the questions and concerns the donor may have. That preparation will win a donor over and help them feel secure that the gift they are going to make – their investment – will do what it’s intended to do and make a real difference.
  3. Be Real — People, especially people of great wealth, can spot a phony. They can tell if you really believe in what you are telling them. So you can’t fake this stuff. You have to believe with all your heart that what you’re asking them to do, YOU would do yourself if you had the means. That’s right. If you want people to follow you, you have to believe in it. Great MGOs get their heart broken by their organization daily. If you can’t get emotional about your mission you WILL NOT inspire others to invest in it. Being real with people is essential.

Remember, people want to follow others where they can say, “here is the plan, great things are going to happen because YOU funded it… now, let’s go and change the world.”
Your donors are ready to follow you. Lead them.