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Jun 15, 2024

Ground Control to Major 'You'

⚒️Some of you know that Julie and I are selling our current home and downsizing a bit. We're moving to an AirBnb in the final weeks of this chaotic remodeling effort, while our awesome Palestinian contractors complete the finishing touches.  Because of this, the audio versions of these newsletters will be a little hit-and-miss.  I'll record them when I'm away from hammers and saws and let you know when they're available!👷

In the meantime, you can listen to previous recordings by visiting The Breakthru Podcast

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Let’s imagine that you and I are sitting down for a coffee and pastry at Shore Pine Cafe in Edmonds, Washington (one of my favorite spots, offering a stunning waterfront view of the Puget Sound and the ferry coming and going).

“I’ve got some really good news!”, I start off, “Kathryn, who I mentioned last time we met, has agreed to meet with you and hear more about the cause .”

“Yes!” you respond excitedly, “Thank you so much for making the connection!”

My friend Kathryn is a local entrepreneur.  She recently completed the sale of her 3rd successful business, netting over USD$25 million, half of which she set aside in a donor advised fund.  Kathryn is truly excited about giving to her favorite causes.

While sipping coffee our discussion covered various strategies of how best to connect you with Kathryn.  We roleplayed scenarios for ways the discussion might go, including the possibility of me joining the meeting.  I left with a sense of sacred confidence and gratefulness for the opportunity to connect you with Kathryn.

Then, something odd (and a little sad) happened:

The circuits went dead.

No further word came from you about how the meeting with Kathryn went.  It’s like I was tapping my communication device, “Is this thing on?  Ground control to major ‘you’...are you there? Major ‘you’?”  And then, in an interesting twist, Kathryn called to say she met with you, thanking me for the connection.  She also offered feedback I could pass along to you.  Uh oh…Sorry…Standby…your circuit’s dead.  Something’s wrong*.

The takeaway?  Don’t take your connector help-mates for granted.  Keep those circuits alive.  Although they may not be major givers, treat them with the same diligence and care you offer any new high net worth prospect.

Connectors are often unsung heroes who open doors, introduce new possibilities, and amplify your cause's reach.  I have a long standing competition with a friend and colleague to see who, at the end of the year, has the highest number of people introducing us to “new” connections that we already connected them to previously.  (yes, this little pathetic competition exists…)

Let’s zero in on five powerful reasons why your connectors are just as important as any major giver, along with actionable pro tips to keep your connector circuits alive and well.

🔋Connectors Amplify Your Reach

Imagine having a mic that never runs out of battery – that's a great connector! They have the unique ability to amplify a message far beyond your immediate circle. Connectors know people of influence and affluence who might be interested in your cause. Treating them with the same respect and gratitude you would a major giver ensures they stay motivated to spread the word to new potential givers.

Pro Tip: Keep your connectors in the loop with regular updates and exclusive insights. Make them feel like insiders. A little VIP treatment goes a long way in inspiring these folks to stay engaged and enthusiastic.

🔋Connectors Are Naturals At Messaging

Top connectors get your cause. They are good storytellers who will articulate your mission and vision with genuine enthusiasm. When they tell the story, it’s an invitation to join a movement. A connector’s passion is contagious.

Pro Tip: Equip your connectors with compelling stories and impactful data. Arm them with the tools they need to share your cause effectively. A well-told story is a powerful catalyst for action.  Listen to how they do it, you may discover a new creative wording that fits perfectly for future campaigns.

🔋Connectors Facilitate Strategic Relationships

A Connector is not simply a social butterfly; they are strategic relationship builders who can introduce you to other key influencers and potential major givers who might have otherwise been out of your reach. Your investment in these relationships will pave the way for future long-term support and substantial gifts.

Pro Tip: Show your appreciation through personalized gestures. A handwritten note, a small gift, or a special shout out in your communications can make a big difference. Let them know their efforts are valued and noticed.

🔋Connectors Enhance Your Credibility

When a respected connector endorses your cause, it significantly boosts your credibility. You will discover their network trusts them, and by extension, they will begin to trust you. This trust can be the tipping point in convincing someone to become a major giver. Care for connectors in the same way you care for major givers.  They appreciate feeling respected and valued.

Pro Tip: Share success stories and impact reports with your connectors. Show them the tangible difference they are making. This reinforces commitment and provides them with proof points to share among their network.  I encourage you to invite key connectors to join international vision trips.  In most instances my causes covered all of their expenses.

🔋Connectors Often Become Givers

It’s truly awesome when connectors themselves become givers.  As you build a strong, respectful relationship with them, you create opportunities to deepen their involvement. They just might be inspired to give at higher levels themselves.

Pro Tip: Invite connectors to exclusive events or behind-the-scenes tours. Show them the inner workings of your organization and the direct impact of their contributions. This insider perspective deepens their connection and inspires greater generosity.

As I write on this topic I am reminded that major gift fundraising is not just about the immediate dollars.  You are building a community of passionate advocates who wholeheartedly believe in your cause.  Connectors play a pivotal role. They serve as a bridge between your cause and the wider world of supporters. By caring well for them, you acknowledge their value and potential to advance your mission.

Check out the resources below to learn more about connector relationships and, until next time,

Connect, inspire, and keep making a difference!

* Reference to the epic song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

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If you haven't taken advantage of some of the resources I've created to help major gift fundraisers, take a look now!  Initial calls with me are free and "no strings attached".  Sometimes folks feel like they need to wait and not 'bother' me until they have a pressing issue.  No need for that...just make the call. 🕺

Here's where you can access a lot of content for free:

* Follow me on LinkedIn - You'll get short pro-tips and reflections on major gift fundraising every day between 5-7am pacific.

* Breakthru Newsletter - As you've seen here, these are longer weekly posts (audio and written) sent directly to your email.

* Breakthru Blog - the newsletter from the previous week gets posted here each week for everyone (so email subscribers get it a week early).

* Breakthru Podcast - Interviews with high net worth givers about how we as fundraisers can get better at inviting them to the party.  And audio readings of Breakthru Blog posts.

Before getting to the PAID stuff:

My opinion is that no small ministry with a tight budget should be spending more than $3-5k (total) for major gift coaching/consulting.  Most of you will be good-to-go spending far less than that.  This was a major issue for me when I was a frontline fundraiser - major gift consultants were an expensive 'black-box-of-confusion' for me.  That stops now.

Here's the PAID stuff:

* Online Catalyst Course - This is a full brain dump of my 28+ years of experience - good, bad, ugly.  It's built around the fundamentals, the sacredness, and the fun, of major gift fundraising.  It's infused with Henri Nouwen reflections.  Many people can take this course and they will be 'cooking-with-gas' and not need any additional coaching from me on the core systems.  I'm grateful that this course has gotten *great* reviews.

* Live coaching with me - I refer to this as "brain rental".  The ROI on live coaching, as you might imagine, is extraordinary.

Finally, be sure to connect with my colleague Ivana Salloum.  She's super awesome and can help with scheduling and access to resources, etc.

I look forward to hearing about your good work!


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