At the 2018 AFP International Conference I have the honor of delivering a fun breakout session based on the business book Getting to “YES AND” The Art of Business Improv by Bob Kulhan.
My friend and colleague, Bill Dewan, Development Director at the Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity affiliate, is the improv expert and my partner in crime for the session titled: YES. And…ASK. Using the Tools of Improv to Raise More Money. Scroll to the session description for Monday, April 16 at 10:45 am.
As we’ve been preparing for our AFP conference session I’ve learned Bill is a huge Philadelphia 76ers fan.
He tells me that hasn’t been easy over the past several years, but there has been a mantra: Trust the Process.
The Sixers had a plan to stockpile top draft picks in order to delay gratification for a bigger moment. The result of “The Process” is now they have three players who either were or are projected to be the top pick in the draft.
This delaying of gratification is a fundamental concept in the “YES AND” book and in theater improv.
As Bill explained it to me: Improv doesn’t go for a cheap laugh like making a joke before the right time comes. Instead, they use the fundamental tool of moving the scene or conversation forward: “Yes. And…”
A terrific example of using YES AND in business can be found here in the bio of Josh Weaver from Zappos marketing department.
In great improv scenes, it’s not just about trying to be funny, which is the measure of improv success.
The use of improvisation allows the exploration of relationships until the audience provides feedback that there is something good and/or funny happening.
In our AFPI conference breakout session, Bill and I will take people through five tools or improv games that will make a donor visit feel great for both parties.
Back to the Philadelphia 76ers and their “long-game” plan…
In fundraising, it’s just as important to build relationships that truly focus on the “long-game,” BUT how often do we really do that?
Five Ways to Trust the Process of the Long-Game
1. Create a SMART Fundraising Plan.
2. Keep your Messages Updated.
Make sure all of your materials — your spring or fall fundraising campaign, planned giving brochure, website, social media, print materials — everything is up to date with mission moment stories and what it truly takes (costs) to do your amazing work.
Just like in improve, try out new ways of sharing your message to see what gets the best response from your audience.
3. Create a Communications Strategy with plans that allow you to:
• Really know your supporters.
• Share clear, bold messages.
• Continually invite participation.
• Hold yourself and others accountable for what you said you’d do
4. Use “Yes. And…” to Deepen Connections.
Example: “Yes, they gave once. AND how will we inspire them to give again, soon?”
Or: “Yes, a gala would be fun. AND since that exponentially increases our workload, let’s focus on inspiring more major gifts in our 1:1 donor visits.
5. Pay Attention to Responses From Others.
Did she just tell me they have three children in college at the same time? Maybe now is NOT the time to ask for that five-year pledge increase. Maybe now IS the time to recognize how supportive she’s been while managing a busy personal life and working full-time.
Improv is about being nimble in both our listening and our responses.
Being tied to a single outcome will dampen enthusiasm AND leave opportunity and contributions on the table. Go ahead, embrace uncertainty, and you’ll nimbly improvise your way through your next donor visit.
Need some help with your long-game process? Schedule your FREE 30 minute strategy session with Lori.