Noooo, we can’t ask for money!  Besides, why would anyone want to give to us?  This just won’t work.  There has to be another way …

This was the conversation among a Board of Directors for a local charity.

The Executive Director asked me to come in to speak with them because the organization was about to undertake a capital campaign and they just couldn’t see themselves asking, or donors giving. They were stuck and needed some help to shift their viewpoint.

I heard them out.

Then I asked them to share why they supported this organization – what motivated them to give of their time and treasure. I asked them to talk about how it made them feel.

Their faces lit up as they talked about their commitment to this cause. How they hoped their work and their giving would someday lead to a cure or effective control. They talked about the difference their organization was making in the community and the people who were being helped. The spoke of lost lives and loves, fear and hope, sadness and joy – all of it with an incredible depth of passion and emotion (there were tears).

Every one of them was personally touched and while they had talked amongst each other at times, they had never before shared their stories with each other this way.  We talked about the positive experience and immense satisfaction they got from their giving and involvement.

When they were done, I asked them why they would want to deny others who are touched, potential donors and the community at large, the opportunity to give and feel like they did.

I asked them if perhaps, as steadfast supporters and stakeholders, they had an obligation to ask others for money. Could they not imagine that there would be other people in the same position as them?

That simple conversation flipped a switch for these people. 

It empowered them to see possibility and opportunity. It helped them understand and rationalize why and how they could and should ask for money. They were still fearful of hearing ‘no’ (it was always about the fear) but getting them in touch with their own feelings and passion for the cause allowed them to transcend the fear.

Asking them to talk out loud about what motivated their own giving and involvement and how great it made them feel, made it easy to get them thinking about how to bring others into the fold.

They were still afraid and they felt vulnerable, but they were fueled by passion and the emotional power of each other’s stories. They began to understand the role they had to play in fundraising, and the responsibility they had as Board members to connect with donors.

I urge you to find and create your own similar ‘campfire moments’ for story sharing.