Kim Klein gives money to children selling raffle tickets. The mother says, “Thank you for your generosity.” And Kim says,
“No,” I think to myself, “I am not generous at all. In fact I am the essence of selfish.” A commons view of the world starts with a very healthy sense of self and goes out from there to create systems in which all “selves” experience equity in their lives.
The failure to understand the relationship between selfishness and equity is what leads people to vote against their own self-interest. No one in California is served by having bad schools, some of which are less bad than others. The unwillingness to share simply pulled everyone down, and it will take decades to undo that damage.
Is it not selfish to want a better world?
When I was little, my dad would often accuse me of being selfish. He would say, “You only think about yourself!” And other things like that.
Now that I’m grown, I’ve done a lot for other people. Some might say, too much.
I’ve written grants, appeals, resumes and cover letters for free.
I’ve given thousands of hours of free advice to struggling nonprofits. I’ve helped them get more major donors, more sponsors, and more volunteers.
But I’ve done it in the service of getting a better world, which is what we all want.
So, because I want a better world, I am being selfish by helping others.
Now of course, I do get paid for helping others. But this is in aid of me continuing to help, and being able to eat, and so on.
Yep, still selfish!
Seth Godin says:
Unaddressed, it compounds into frustration.
And frustration is the soul killer, the destroyer of worker and customer relationships, loyalty and progress.
The solution is pretty simple: address the unhappiness. Change the system or talk about the problem or acknowledge it if that’s all that can be done. None of this can happen, though, unless there’s communication.
Most open door policies are window dressing. Most, “is everything okay with your dinner?” is rote. True communication, actual intention (and action) in digging deeper, is difficult work. If it doesn’t feel like you’re working at it, you’re probably not doing it right.
You need to be communicating with your community about what needs to change, in order to get things to change.
You need to be telling them, all the time, we don’t have to settle for this. We don’t have to settle for this situation. Our happiness needs communication to become reality.
How can you change people’s narratives from “I have to look out for myself” to “I take care of my community?”
Show them that helping the world also helps people like them. That’s right. The rich tend to help people like themselves.
Godin continues: “When decisions roll around–from what to have for breakfast, to whether or not to make that investment to what TV show (or none) to watch on TV tonight, the question to ask is: Is this a reflex that’s part of my long-told story, or is this actually a good decision? When patterns in engagements with the people around you become well-worn and ineffective, are they persistent because they have to be, or because the story demands it?”
“We maintain our worldview, our biases, our grudges and our affections. We nurse our grudges and see the very same person (and situation) in the mirror today that we did yesterday. We may have a tiny break, a bit of freshness, but no, there’s no complete fresh start available to us.
Marketers have been using this persistence to their advantage forever. They sell us a car or a trip or a service that fits the story we tell ourselves. I don’t buy it because it’s the right thing for everyone, I buy it because it’s right for me, the us I invented, the I that’s part of the story I’ve been telling myself for a long time.”
How can you change the decisions people make, to include giving to your nonprofit?
How do you change the story for people? How do you convince people to change their behavior?
You have to become a better writer.
You have to learn to write and speak persuasively for your cause.
You were not taught this in school, and this is a grave oversight.
Cleopatra was taught how to write and speak persuasively. It was her job, as a ruler of Egypt, to do so.
It is your job, as the fundraiser for your nonprofit, to learn what Cleopatra learned.
In answer to the question, Are your donors selfish?
YES of course they are!
And so are you!
It’s healthy to be selfish, to want a better world because it is going to improve your life.
If you’d like to learn to write more persuasively, I’ve got some ideas and classes coming up that might help you.
If you’d like to learn to speak more persuasively, check out the recording of the Nonprofit Presentations webinar we just did.
Click here to learn more about how to speak persuasively for your cause