The Passion Behind the Ask

"Passionate people are the only advocates which always persuade. The simplest man with passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent without."

~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

You are the best advocate for your organization.

Which means that everyone at the organization – from the receptionist, to the IT person, to the program staff, to the Executive Director – is a fundraiser.

Daunted? Don’t be.

I’ve been writing direct mail fundraising letters for fourteen years. And as I’ve talked to countless staff members, trying to gather the information needed to produce a blockbuster piece, there’s one question I’ve learned to ask first:

Why are YOU so passionate about this issue/problem/organization?

Because when you’re trying to raise support – whether it’s time, money or energy – for your organization, you’re talking to people. And people want to hear the good stuff before putting that all-important signature on the check.

They want to be moved. They want to feel they can make a difference. They want to connect with their tribe and feel they’re part of something greater than themselves.

And if you’re trying to get their money (or time, or referrals, or anything else), you’ve got to convince them that you can give them what they want. The best way I’ve found to do that is to convey your passion.

That’s one of the things I love about direct mail. It’s personal, it’s impassioned, and it conveys key things about your organization, its mission and its issues in a concise and friendly way. While asking for money!

But that ask starts with your passion. After all, a direct mail letter is a personal letter from one person at your organization to one donor. That one donor -- multiplied by the thousands of letters you send out -- needs to sense your excitement about the cause, your commitment to working on it. They need to feel that YOU are absolutely convinced that your organization is the best for the job.

When they can feel every ounce of your passion in that ask, that's when they are most moved to give.

So, what do you love about your work? And why should it matter to the rest of us?