Would an Attorney Email His Closing Argument to the Jury?

| by Shannon Williams

Of course not. A successful attorney relies on his ability to clearly articulate his case; passionately persuade the jury to follow his logic; and emotionally draw the jury to the conclusion he hopes they will reach.

Telling the story of your organization is a bit like delivering the closing argument. Nevertheless, countless non-profit staff and volunteer leaders shy away from making their cases before their prospective donors in person. Instead, they hide behind email or direct mail solicitations, wondering why prospects don’t respond or donors don’t give more.

A young organization in Whitsett, NC, Peacehaven Community Farm, recently launched its first-ever annual campaign. I encouraged them to meet face to face with their prospective donors and share the story of the Farm.

During the Campaign Kick-off there was a gentleman in the room (we’ll call him Fred to protect the innocent) who was a faithful volunteer on the Farm—someone who pulls weeds in the garden, feeds the animals, generally pitches in however needed. The staff was thrilled when Fred agreed to be part of the campaign team, but they expected him to be reserved and perhaps even a little uncomfortable with the thought of personally meeting with potential donors. In short, they expected him to be the “hide-behind-the-email-or-letter” type.

What they failed to account for was his unyielding passion for the mission of the Farm. In spite of his shy nature, he wanted people to know about the good work of the Farm, and he wanted others to join him as an investor in its mission. Fred might not be comfortable talking about himself, but he sure was comfortable talking about the Farm.  In fact, his efforts were a major reason that Peacehaven blew away their goal of $75,000, raising more than $181,000.

So what is the lesson here?

  1. Attorneys deliver their closing arguments in person and non-profits leaders should deliver their organization’s story of impact in person too.
  2. Every organization has a Fred (or many Freds) who are so passionate about the organization’s mission that they are willing to go beyond their comfort zones if they are encouraged.
  3. Non-profit staff and board leaders need to get in touch with their inner Freds. If they don’t have an inner Fred, they just might need to find another organization to serve.

We would love to hear about your Fred or inner Fred! Join our conversation.


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