October 7, 2013

Don`t Tell Us What You`re Against – Tell Us What You`re For.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker authors of The Generosity Network

We have a friend who works for a nonprofit organization that is focused on the environment. Recently, we asked her why she was so passionate about her work. Her answer surprised and thrilled us. She said, quite simply, “I am for a healthy and sustainable planet.”

You may wonder, what’s so thrilling about that answer? It seems logical enough, perhaps even predictable. But many people frame their personal passions in “against” terms: “I work on the environment because I’m against the degradation of the planet,” or “I’m against unaccountable corporations,” or “I’m against oil dependence.”

When we set up our conversations in terms of separate, opposing forces, we’re tapping fear as our chief motivating factor. We stimulate anxiety that the “wrong side” will be victorious and the “right side” will lose.

Many nonprofits try to attract support by pointing to horrific emergencies that demand an immediate response: a devastating tsunami, a raging epidemic, a war that has created hundreds of thousands of refugees. This kind of “now” appeal can work well, as demonstrated by the millions of gifts generated in cases of such emergencies.

But relying on a sense of external urgency usually doesn’t work as a long-term motivator. In a world of instantaneous global communication, we’re all aware that there is always some disaster under way, or in the making, somewhere in the world. The result is that compassion fatigue quickly sets in: We become inured to the images of suffering on our TV sets and eventually tune them out.

Instead, strive to focus on the positive potential latent in a timely response. If the problem you’re addressing is at a tipping point, where action now can produce cascading long-term benefits, say so! If an organization you support is pioneering an exciting new approach that may lead to a much-needed breakthrough, explain it! Narratives like these have the potential to create a hopeful sense of urgency inside the listener, which is far more effective than one that is imposed from without and driven by anxiety.

A subtle shift from “against” to “for” is enormously powerful. Gandhi famously spoke of this in his talks and writings: “It’s not that I’m against British rule. It’s that I am for Indian independence.” When we are clear that our goal is for something, we stop moving away from something negative and start moving toward something positive. This kind of movement has a whole different quality to it—a quality of gentleness, generosity, and light.

So when you meet for the first time with a potential supporter for your favorite cause, don’t lead with a case for support that shows why your idea is better than someone else’s or why the world will fall apart if your organization doesn’t receive a donation today. Your goal should be to stir something inside them that is for something. That’s the best way to win partners—not just for a day, but for life.

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  1. Sylvia Marquette

  2. Sanjay Tanna

    very true............

  3. Om Mari


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