A decade ago, when I was full time fundraising, a partner to my organization called me.
The night before, he'd been at a parlor meeting hosted at 10 Downing Street, official residence of then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
At that evening, he'd met a 'not so close' school acquaintance from 25 years previous, who'd become a billionaire.
My buddy, always looking to involve less connected Jews in great Jewish causes, engaged this wealthy guy with a short pitch about my organization.
He reported back to me the morning after. He said that this wealthy guy's interest level was low!
But he told me to call him anyway, using his name, to try and get myself a meeting.
I called this wealthy prospect. The conversation was brief. I remember it clearly. “I can't hear you!" he said, "Call my assistant.” So I did. And I landed a date in his calendar.
A series of meetings later, we landed a first time gift - a three year commitment at $75K a year!
How can you (and those connected with your organization) engage big prospects in conversations about what you do, so you can solicit them for mega donations?
For some of us, myself included, there was always a stress involved in trying to make these ‘pitches’ to wealthy prospects at events.
One of the reasons it’s so difficult is because we're trying to accomplish everything in these brief conversations. It’s stressful because we realize so much is weighing on this opportunity.
We feel forced to make an entire 'elevator' pitch' about our organization. It's unnatural because we’re accelerating what normally takes much longer into perhaps half a minute.
You can’t push that fast.
I’m going to share with you a way to reframe these opportunities, so they become much less stressful. And certainly more successful.
To do it right, focus your efforts on just - Starting a Conversation.
This way, when you can get into a conversation with someone, you'll end up with something very different.
When you're asked the 'So what do you do?' question. What you say next is crucial.
Your answer should be no more that FIVE seconds. Keep it simple, so whoever you are talking with, will understand what you do.
You can do this by answering the question ‘What is the one thing that our organization does that is unique, that if we were not here doing it, there would be a real lack?'
Remember, your answer here should be no more than 5 seconds. It's ALL about raising the interest level of the person you're speaking to.
“What do you do?”
"I head Project 613. We create community and connection for Jewish young professionals in Downtown Chicago."
If they look moderately interested, they lean in and their eyebrows raise, you may decide to go into your 'Why Pitch' - Your 'Why Pitch' answers the question - Why You.
So you continue,
"When young men and women leave college and start their professional lives, there's a big lack of opportunities for Jewish engagement."
Pause Again. Check where they're at. If there's still a mild interest, then you may want to continue.
"That's where Project 613 comes in. We've created community and connection for Jewish young professionals, at a time in their lives when they're making important life decisions that will impact their Jewish future."
If they still look interested, you might go on to say,
"Is this something you'd be open to hearing more about. Perhaps we could make a time to speak?"
All you have to do is 'start the conversation.'
Once you've had your initial intro conversation, you can follow up at another time. The goal is to start a conversation and raise their interest level, so they're a bit intrigued. And open to speak more.
Just 'starting a conversation' is 90% of the work. Like my experience, it was enough to move things forward to the next step.
Next time you're at an event and an opportunity arises, just look to start conversations. No pressure.
First, and before you set out, clarify your 'Five Second' answer to the question 'What do you do?'
B'Hatzlacha raba raba,
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