March 31: Silver foxes and vulnerability in fundraising

*Jen Love added Steven Screen to the chat.*

Jen

tap tap tap….added my man Steven Screen ❤

Simon

Hello Mr Screen

Steven

Hello Simon!

Thanks for having me on.

Simon

We love ya!

You managing through all this?

Steven

Yup. It’s hard, but weirdly satisfying too – it’s wonderful to be so helpful to orgs right now.

Jen

How is island life with small children during a global pandemic, Steven?

Steven

Island life is great. Distance from the big outbreak in the city is lovely. Just the challenges of homeschooling three little ones!

You and yours?

Jen

My teenagers are getting dumber by the minute with endless vids… Luckily they are beautiful, bright, white and rich so in the long run we’ll still be fine. Soooo feeling my privilege right now

Simon

All grand here. Managing! Some things really good and some a bummer

Steven

So do you guys do this whole thing via your phones?

Jen

#gongshow

Simon

We recommend laptop but I’m prob gonna be on my phone today

Jen

Ooooh Steven you lucky earlybird… sometimes we don’t tell our guests this but it is a million times easier if you use the laptop version

Simon

Generally whoever is on their phone gets lambasted by the others for being slow

Steven

OK, so how do I do this on a laptop?

John

Just press any key

Screenshot gif of Homer Simpson trying to find the 'any' key on a keyboard

John

PERFECT JOHN

Steven

Downloading now. But I can’t find the any key.

This is being typed exponentially faster from my computer.

John

Kermit the frog typing really fast on a typewriter

Simon

Right?

Jen

So now when you look back at the other chats you can tell who knew (Lesley) and who didn’t (Mark)

Steven

I’m going to take my President’s approach and say that everything that happened before I got here was done very poorly, just a tragedy really, and the laud myself for doing just a very fantastic job.

*Jen removed Steven Screen from the chat*

*Jen added Steven Screen to the chat*

Jen

Let that be your one and only warning, SCREEN

Steven

Boundaries noted.

🙂

Jen

Bea? Are you here? Are you in some kind of weird Norwegian quarantine with your parents…oh yeah… you are

I’m messaging Bea privately and she might be ghosting us

Leaving me on Delivered…

John

Ooof

Beate

Jesus, 44 messages before I even have a chance to log on, we’re not at the time yet

I’m here, I’m here!

Jen

Hey Bea!

Beate

Heeey

Steven

I’m half norwegian.

Jen

OH FUCK that’s the end of this chat

Beate

Are you??

❤️❤️❤️

John

im like 4% norweigan

14% swedish

Jen

Guys, I just took a DNA test and turns out

I’m 100% that bitch

John

HAR HAR

Steven

HAHA

Hi Beate, and you bet. My Mom was a Clauson.

Simon

cartoon of a person in front of a Norwegian flag, wearing a Norwegian flag t-shirt, waving two Norwegian flags

Beate

Norwegians unite

❤️

Jen

OK quick Norwegian love affair before we start…WTF is a Clauson

Beate

It’s a name

John

30% Russian German…

Steven

Translated it means “Super duper smart but very humble”

Simon

Steven how many pieces of bread do you use in a sandwich?

Beate

Hahahah!

Only one right answer to this question

A lot rides on it

John

1!

Beate

Yeeeesss!!!!!

Simon

🙄

Steven

Um, 1?

John

1.

Jen

OK OK reeling this in like I might reel in a crate of lobsters

Hello hello and welcome to our very special guest Mr. Steven Screen…

Steven

Honored to be here!

Beate

Mister Norwegian Steven Screen, welcome!

John

the silver fox

❤️

Steven

You guys are the best

Jen

So I’ve hijacked John’s hosting because I felt it was the right time to bring in my man Steven… to talk about vulnerability in fundraising

Not to brag (bragging) but I posted something recently about vulnerability, and so did Steven, and it’s clear that lots of our colleagues out there are thinking about and reflecting on how to connect with donors right now

Steven and I have been working for the past year or so on this idea that a secret key to fundraising is vulnerability…

Simon

Love it

Jen

Steven, do you want to take a minute (and we will be watching your typing) and talk about why we need vulnerability RFN?

Steven

Absolutely!

Beate

Don’t waste our time with an “absolutely” man

We only have 30 minutes, get to the real typing!

John

Gif of little boy thrumming his fingers on a table

Jen

Speaking of being vulnerable, Steven is now getting chirped!

John

LOL

Beate

While typing so he can’t fight back

Jen

Sit down, John and Bea…

John

i don;t even think he;s typing

Steven

Organizations have egos, as do the people who work in them. And humans don’t particularly like to feel vulnerable. What results are fundraising communications where it doesn’t actually sounds like donors are NEEDED.

Beate

Ooh

Jen

YASSSSSSS

Beate

Nicely put

Jen

Charities saying “here’s what we’re doing, here’s how we’re responding” … leaving no space for donors?

Beate

Because we have to sound like we’re on top of things, right..

Steven

But when Organizations practice vulnerability – ask their donors to help *as if the organization really needs the help* — donor’s respond in droves.

John

why don’t humans or orgs like to feel vulnerable?

Beate

Because it leaves you open to pain and ridicule

John

does it though?

Beate

Well, not really, but that’s what we’re afraid of I think. That’s what it feels like.

Jen

Yes, when you are vulnerable you are open to judgment, criticism…or at least you feel that way

Steven

We want to sound like we’re on top of things. Makes us feel better about ourselves. But that’s a massive mistake because our organizations were founded to help others, not the people who work in them. Founders get this, but often successive generations of employees do not.

(This is why it’s usually so great to work for a founder.)

To John’s point, it doesn’t leave you open to pain and ridicule as much as you fear it will. But fear sets the boundary, not data.

Jen

Oh wow…fear sets the boundary

John

it sure does

well said

Beate

My former colleague said that we are afraid to write real and authentic – write with emotion – because in order to do that we have to feel those emotion. And any criticism to our writing then feels like criticism of ourselves and that hurts.

Jen

And there is an irony to the fact that founders probably had a legit fear of going out there to say “we need to stand up for abused women”… that was vulnerability in its purest form… all orgs were founded by some version of that… lovely

Simon

Is it sustainable for a fundraiser to feel everything they write?

Beate

Good question

Simon

Thanks Beate

Jen

I think Steven and I are the wrong people to ask

Steven

Agree with Beate.

Jen

Feelings are facts in my house

I don’t know how to write if I’m not feelings my feelings

John

it is – but it comes with a cost

just as it does being a vulnerable human in our real life

Jen

Wait, is this an intervention?

Beate

Hahah

Simon

It’s why you’re both silver foxes

John

haha

Jen

❤ it’s why the 3 of us are…

Steven

Great question. I don’t think a fundraiser has to feel everything they write. I know I don’t. I often feel like I”m writing in the third person, sitting above the copy and maneuvering the emotions and emotional triggers around to do what I want them to do.

Beate

I know my writing is definitely best when there is real emotion either on my part or the part of the person who’s voice I’m writing in. If not, it’s just sorting following the recipe and it can get dull, there’s no blood flowing to it.

But you can get pretty far with the recipe too!

Jen

See? Steven and I approach our craft entirely differently, but we both come back to the same core: vulnerability. I’m feeling it all and it sometimes wrecks me. Steven sees it all and experiences it entirely differently!

Steven

Agree that writing is most powerful when there is real emotion. But theoretically that emotion is only present in order to trigger emotion in the donor.

I love how Jen and I do this differently – but see so much value in the other’s approach.

Jen

100% same. And it’s part of what makes this whole conversation about vulnerability unique — everyone can come at it from their own place, perspective and plan!

Beate

What a love fest this is😄

John

no kidding

Steven

And the ‘recipe’ is the real skill that we need to be teaching. Because with the recipe even someone who isn’t willing to feel — or doesn’t even know that that means or why someone should feel — can still create effective fundraising.

Beate

This conversation is extra timely now – I see so many organisations refusing to admit that this crisis is hard for them!

Or they don’t want to cause fear (fair enough)

Jen

OK, Steven, break that down for me. You’re a fundraiser and you’re working on the next appeal.

How do we move the needle on teaching this skill set?

Steven

And masking their inability to Ask by saying things like “I don’t think we should be taking advantage of people to raise money right now” and other dreck.

Beate

Yes!

Not necessarily inability, but fear of asking I’d say

Steven

Yes, that’s what I meant to communicate.

Beate

Even for those who have done this for many many years, it still feels good to have an excuse not to ask!

Jen

That’s the first step, isn’t it? Making sure that the chief exec or board chair isn’t allowing their own fears to come into play… “this doesn’t sound like me”, “I don’t talk like that”…even in simpler (non global pandemic times) we hear that…

Beate

How do you do that?

Steven

Overly simple outline to ‘breaking it down’ for Jen:

#1, make sure leadership isn’t hung up by own issues (story about money and/or fundraising).

#2, Understanding that they are doing direct response, not “fundraising.”

#3, understanding that there are tried and true approaches/outlines/recipes that they should follow,

#4, picking the most appropriate recipe and pouring heart/soul/art into that.

Jen

YES! What he just said!

Steven

THis is the part of our business that’s more like Therapy than anything else.

Beate

So much of what we do is just professional therapy..

John

this is my ongoing problem with stupid branding guidelines and nonsense…

Jen

Comes from the same place: control, approve, sanitize.

John

exactly.

like steven said – this is direct response not fucking advertising

Steven

Truth truth truth

Beate

Well brand guidelines are also to be recognisable to everyone you deal with..

Jen

Here at the Agents we’ve replaced all our speaking/training with therapy…

Steven, wow, time is flying here…

Steven

No one has sniped me for several minutes!

Beate

Enjoy it pal

Before you know it you’ll be booted

John

we started late since beate wanted to talk about how norweigan we all were

Beate

Always worth the time

Jen

🙄

Steven

LOL

Simon

Haha

Jen

I wanted to just give some space to share a few examples of how we’ve seen and heard from charities who say to us “wow, we used some of these techniques and our results are up….”

Certainly in the last few months, and with increasing frequency in current times, we hear from folks saying, “this was uncomfortable but we did it and it worked”

is that the vulnerability lesson?

Steven

Absolutely. They were scared to try it – felt risky — but they did it.

Beate

🙌🏼🙌🏼 to bravery

Vulnerability = bravery

Can’t have one without the other

John

being vulnerable – as im hoping we uncovered – ISN’T RISKY

Beate

Feels risky

Steven

It’s the Brene Brown quote on Vulnerability, something like ‘vulnerability sounds like troth and feels like courage. they aren’t comfortable but they’re never weakness.”

Jen

YES! Dr. Brene Brown wouldn’t typo troth but Steven is right…

Beate

Hahahah

Steven

But it’s a GOOD risky. What’s even more risky is doing things like ‘we’re going to innovate’!

Jen

Here’s what Dr Brene Brown said: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Beate

I was wondering what on gods green earth troth means😂

Jen

Troth sounds kinda viking…

Beate

Kinda yes

Steven

“troth” is a Norwegian term. You wouldn’t understand.

Jen

Oh my “kick you out” finger is feeling very twitchy and itchy…

But we are at our half hour time slot… anyone else want to comment or ask our man Steven a question?

John

Steven

Jen

As I say in my interviews “anything we didn’t cover that you want to share?”

John

How do you stay so trim?

Simon

Ha

Steven

Well John (ha!) mostly good fortune. Eating gluten and dairy free at home. And riding my bike to work.

Jen

OK, let me rephrase

Beate

We can’t all live that Isle life

John

Jen

Any *important or useful* questions?

John, my kick out finger is itchy and twitchy

John

hey – that was a vulnerable question

Jen

Fair. And also, fuck off.

Steven

Here’s my question for you guys . . .

Most of us get to work with people who are vulnerable; they know there is a different way to do fundraising. They’d like to try it and are even willing to be held accountable to doing it. That’s great. But how do we figure out how to work with the people and orgs who aren’t vulnerable? Who needs it but doesn’t see it yet?

Beate

Oh.

Good one..

Jen

Yeahhhh that is a good question!

Beate

I guess I usually find I can’t make good results for them if they won’t listen. And then the relationship naturally ends at some point

John

for me – it’s all about expectations when talking to new clients

Jen

John, please unpack

John

drawing a line in the sand. this is why we need to consider doing it this way… here’s the proof it works…

and if you can’t work this way then we likely can’t do great work together

Steven

What can we do/create/put out there that would help people expand their story about what’s possible in fundraising. And knowing that it’s probably not facts that are going to convince them?

John

i know for me it’s constantly showing examples and sharing stories of the amazing things that happen when you are a vulnerable org

Steven

This is great thinking and policy. We’re getting better and better and doing this with clients before we start working with them

Jen

I think I said this before the chat started, but in the Love family homes, Feelings Are Facts. I honestly have that on an embroidered pillow in my home.

Beate

Show them other work

When it’s not their brand on it, everyone thinks it’s brilliant

Steven

So true. Because they aren’t accountable and haven’t had to push through the fear to do it.

Jen

Ok, let’s keep the conversation going about bringing more charities onside with vulnerability…

But to close, our lobster fact!

Lobsters are sensitive creatures.

Simon

Awww

John

that;s it?

Jen

It is common among mammals to be able to anticipate and avoid pain.

dude, every time you’re fucking rushing my facts

it’s story time

Simon

Anticipate pain

Beate

So profound

Jen

chill out

anyway

Beate

🦞 ❤️

Simon

Poor little fuckers

Jen

it was mostly thought that only vertebrates could have the reasoning it requires to anticipate and avoid pain

but…not with lobsters

Despite their knight-like appearance, lobsters are actually sensitive and delicate animals. Although they can’t see or hear very well they do have an exquisite sense of touch, thanks to hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs that stick out from gaps in their shells. Lobsters are also sensitive to changes in temperature — detecting temperature shifts as small as one degree — which is partly why they migrate up to 160 kilometres every year to find the perfect breeding ground for their fragile babies. This certainly puts death in a scalding pot into perspective.

Steven

*please please let them keep going*

John

so is grilling them better than boiling them?

Beate

Oh my god, John 😬

Jen

NOW you can chirp me about whether you’re satisfied JOHN

Simon

Are there some kinky lobsters who are into it?

Beate

Oh my god, Simon 😬

John

I’m never satisfied Jen – that’s what makes me so good.

*Jen removed John Lepp from the chat*

Simon

lol

Jen

Fuck that noise.

Beate

Ok bye?

Jen

Anyway, sometimes we decide to kick out the non guest. We’re all vulnerable, baby!

*Jen added John Lepp to the chat*

Simon

Yeh John was the least vulnerable so should be punished

John

Sigh

Jen

It all comes from a place of love and learning

Steven

I feel like I’ve just had a chance to play with the varsity Banter Team. And I know I’m still JV.

Beate

I only know what 50% Of that sentence means

Jen

Try it in Norwegian!

Steven

John you can come over. We’re having clams tonight.

John

NICE!

Jen

Anyway, that was fun and action packed. Thank you, Steven!

John

thanks Steven!

Steven

Thank YOU for having me!

Beate

Tusen takk Steven!

🇳🇴

Jen

Steven

The only thing I know how to say in Norwegian is “I love you” which isn’t quite appropriate at the moment. So I’ll say THANKS!

Beate

Thats what i said..

John

Simon

❤️

John

now off for an opened faced sandwich

Simon

I’m off for a quick bread sandwich

Steven

Be well!

Simon

Thanks Steven. Mind yourself x

Jen

OK Steven, joked about this but here’s where we remove you from the group. Lots of love and be well and stay in touch! ❤

*Jen removed Steven Screen from the chat*

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