The Mighty Eight

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Published July 24, 2016

The Mighty Eight

Here are Eight Principles I want you to think about practicing. They apply to your printed material, your letters, and your personal presentations. I promise you success.

  1. Keep it Simple – I once heard from a successful Defense Attorney: “If you argue ten points, even if each is significant, when they get back to the jury room, they won’t remember any.
    Be a master of exclusion. Relentlessly prioritize. Keep it simple.
  2. Seek the Unexpected – You need to keep their interest— that can mean blazing through a person’s expectations.
  3. Be Concrete – Be unambiguous. Very often mission statements, strategies, and visions are dull, meaningless, and difficult to follow. Keep your ideas full of enticing concrete images. Peter Drucker said your Mission Statement should be brief enough to fit on a t-shirt.
  4. Be Credible – Your case has to be memorable.
    In trying to build a case for support, many fundraisers instinctively grasp for hard numbers. This is often exactly the wrong approach.
    President Reagan could have cited statistics demonstrating the sluggishness of the economy. Instead, he asked a simple question most could identify with: “Ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”
  5. Make it Emotional and Dramatic – In order to get people to care about your program, you need to make them feel the breathtaking power of how you touch lives. You need to grab people in an embrace from which they cannot escape.
  6. Tell Stories – You get people to move to action by telling stories. Hearing a story acts as a kind of mental flight simulator. Statistics tell. Stories sell.
  7. Urgency – Of all the elements, urgency is the most important. You want your donors to feel that time will not wait. It must be done now. Nothing is more important. Martin Luther King called it: “The fierce urgency of now.”
  8. Questions – Those you call on want to know: Why your Institution. Why this project. Why now. Why me.


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