Yesterday I had the opportunity to join a Corona Insights webcast interview with consultant Kimberley Sherwood of Third Sector Group, Inc. Sherwood discussed the importance of heartfelt engagement in your fundraising efforts. One of the realities of this approach is the nonprofit executive director/CEO is the keeper of the mission’s heart and soul, says Sherwood. In other words, if you’re the organization’s leader, it’s your job to embody the spirit of the mission so your staff can build on your inspiration with the donors they’re cultivating.
It’s no coincidence that Sherwood claims engaging the heart and soul is the cornerstone of remarkable fundraising. Leadership guru and prolific business book author, John Kotter, talks about the essential connection between organizational change and putting the heart back into the workplace. In one of his latest books, A Sense of Urgency, I asked John why we have to be reminded to infuse emotion in our leadership strategies, be they strategies for fundraising or other efforts. Here’s what Kotter said:
Spreadsheets and statistics drive our business decisions. Technology allows us to measure countless metrics and produce reams of data. And as I explain in A Sense of Urgency, we have been taught throughout our careers to tell people the facts as logically and rationally as possible. So it’s no surprise that leaders rely on these same approaches—and they certainly have their place. But as I wrote recently: Winning hearts and minds away from complacency is not possible with economic data alone. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., didn’t pull hundreds of thousands if not millions of white people into his cause by saying, ‘I have a strategic plan. Let’s look first at the data in exhibit A.’
Successful change requires urgency and enthusiasm from leaders on down. And that sort of excitement can only be unleashed with a compelling appeal to people’s hearts. This brings us back to Sherwood’s point about leading your organization’s successful fundraising by modeling heartfelt engagement with the cause.
I’ll leave you with this passage from Kotter’s Urgency book we featured with a Page to Practice™ summary at CausePlanet: “For centuries we have had the expression in English, ‘Great leaders win over the hearts and minds of others.’ The expression is not, ‘Great leaders win over the minds of others.’ More interesting yet, the expression is not that great leaders win the minds and hearts of others. Heart comes first.” (p. 45)