The Quick and Dirty Version

Who are you?


If it takes you a bit to answer that, you’ve got some work to do.

This isn’t just about cause marketing and grant writing. It’s about clarity of purpose and action.

When you’re confused, you add things to yourself to hide, to appear different or bigger.

Drop into your gut, speak who you are, and don’t clean it up.

The quick and dirty version is the most authentic and the most powerful. If someone doesn’t like it, better you find out now.


Why the Right People Don’t Care: Part 2

You got 'em!  Wait...You lost them.

You got ’em!
Wait…You lost them.
Photo credit: via Bing

Last week, I posted 3 of the 6 great reasons the right people don’t care about your cause. If you missed them, read more here.

Today, I share the other 3, and one crucial thing everyone misses when looking for a sponsoring partner.

Who are the right people?

They are people with a) connections you need, b) the resources your cause requires or c) the talent that will take your cause to higher level of contribution to the community.

As stewards of their resources, they won’t invest in your cause without thought.

And you can’t change the world alone.

Don’t make these mistakes:

4.            You’re telling the wrong story.

Successful people and companies will not waste their time with someone who isn’t working on the things they care about. Once you get yourself in front of the right people, are you telling them the story that most aligns with their own vision?

5.            You’re depressing us.

Telling the most depressing story about your cause is not going to win you a deeper contribution. It will make a funder feel like they are dropping their talent or resources into a black hole of despair. Why should we invest if what you’re doing is hopeless? Find the light.

6.            You have no space for us.

This is the most important. You’re standing in front of the right person, you’ve wrapped us in a compelling, hopeful story, and your organization is going to save the day! Great!

Then why do you need us? Somewhere within your story you need to find a space for that right person. If not, you just told us a great story, and raised our awareness, but didn’t give us room to be a part.

Here’s the crucial thing that everyone people misses. Ask for a referral. Birds of a feather flock together. If you’ve won over one company (and even if you haven’t), they may know another organization that will also believe in your work. Ask to be introduced.

My hope is that these tips will help you make the connections you need to continue your great work. Click on the title above, and comment!

Why the Right People Don’t Care About Your Cause

No sign

Hard to hear, right?
Credit: ginaverdezoto’s weblog

I write compelling stories. They turn into grants.  Speeches. Marketing and collateral for interesting people. Branding for causes.

Invariably, everyone who comes to me has the same problem:

Great idea or cause… and no one cares. They approach a partner or funder and get denied. They put things out in social media and have no interest.

Why is that?

You’ve got irrefutable data. You got stories about how if we just do this one thing, things would be better for a lot of people. Or maybe your life has been one adventure after another, and now you’ve written a book.

Still not getting as many clicks as you’d like?

I understand. A few years ago (okay, maybe 10 years ago), I was coordinating a conference for a major university. The speakers were well-known in their field. One was a MacArthur Genius Grant winner, and another a local legend. We were expecting close to 500 attendees from across the country.

I couldn’t pull a sponsor to save my job. Things weren’t going well and I was actually going to quit to save the conference when I (finally!) recruited my first donor.  I asked why she was sponsoring.

What you’ll read below is her answer and 5 more crucial pointers I’ve learned over my years of grantwriting that I will share in this 2-part blog. (Part 2 is here.) Feel free to comment, or ask a question. Tell me how you got to your “yes”—or ask me how to get past a “no”.

Why people don’t care about your cause:

1.            You don’t know what you want.

When you get on the phone or in front of the person who can make a difference, do you know what you need from them? If you speak in broad terms, or make general statements, I think you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Don’t try a shotgun approach to asking— know who I am, and be laser-focused with what you’re asking for.

2.            You’re talking to the wrong person.

Every great idea has natural advocates. Organic farmers will support the locavore movement. Animal lovers will support PETA. A good actor will have an audience of people who like great characters.  Are you approaching a funder just because they have deep pockets? How does what you do support what they do?

3.            You’re talking to the right company, but the wrong person.

Great! You’ve found a company that naturally aligns with your mission or your message. You know that they would love the event you’re planning—or the cause you’re promoting. You’re getting a “no” because the person you’re talking to has different priorities than you. Who in the company has the same priorities as you do?

Here, I finish this 2-part blog by discussing these high-stakes reasons why no one cares:

4.            You’re telling the wrong story.

5.            You’re depressing us.

6.            You have no space for us.  

And one crucial thing that everyone misses when looking for a sponsoring partner.

Am I right on the nose? Leave me a comment, or tell me your story.

From Dream to Determination: 3 Uncommon Questions to Move You Forward

They say pursuing your dreams is difficult. I’m not disagreeing, but I don’t find it’s difficult in the way that you expect. “Be prepared for struggle,” they say. “Things will get rough, and you’ll have to make adjustments. Nothing worth having comes easy.”

In the beginning, that may be true. You question your motives for stepping away from the path everyone else seems to take. But sooner rather than later, it’s easy. The right people show up, and things fall in place in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. You’re in the mystical flow.

Here’s where pursuing your dreams gets difficult.

You’ve got to explain the “new” you to your old friends.

These are people who are used to your old way of thinking and being. The difficulty lies in trying to relate to the people who’ve been in your life for a long time.

I experienced this most recently with one of my friends. We used to gab about bad bosses and even worse dates. That was until I took ownership of the way I showed up in my life. Instead of commiserating, I’d try to share my new optimistic perspective. She’d ask me the same questions, and I had different answers. She seemed surprised, and sometimes less talkative. Our phone calls became less frequent.

I love her, and so I’d try to talk only about the things that I thought we still had in common. I projected that she would be uncomfortable– and her life was moving into a direction that was different from mine. I would avoid talking about my great new client, or the unexpected award I received because I wasn’t sure where our common places were anymore.

Are you hiding in there? Credit:

Are you hiding in there?

When you love someone, sometimes you try to express that love by squeezing yourself into a role that you’ve outgrown. Or worse, you hide your success. Love never requires you to compromise your integrity.

This is a crucial piece of the puzzle I’ve written about. Here are your 3 questions:

1. Have you had a frank talk with your closest friends about where you see your life going?

If you can’t let your friends know about the vision for your life, ask yourself why. Check in to where they are going and if they will understand why you want something different.

2. Do they really support you getting there?

Moving off the mainstream into your own stream means that you are creating a new way forward. When you start to do things differently, will they cheer you on or nag you to spend your time doing something normal? The leadership of your life is too important to have negative feedback from your inner circle.

3. Are you willing to lose their approval to pursue your joy?

You have this life right now to pursue your joy. Do you trust that while you’re in pursuit, you’ll meet the people who understand you? Having someone’s approval is not a surrogate for your personal fulfillment.

Take this quick inventory. If you’re overly concerned about what your friends will think of your success, ask yourself if you’re ready to walk this walk. The right people will grow with you.