The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Thank you to Jerry Askew, President of The Alliance for Better Nonprofits in Knoxville, TN, for his guest blog today.

If you’re like me, hardly a day goes by without someone saying, “Hey Jerry.  How’s it going?”  Typically, most of us respond to such questions with a throwaway line like, “Everything’s great!” Or, “Doing well.  How about you?” Or maybe even “Livin’ the dream!”  When we respond like that, I think we miss a great opportunity to tell our organization’s story in a way that might just inspire someone to become a supporter.

Berry Fowler at the Fowler School of Business and Executive Coaching suggests that when we are asked, “How’s it going?” we should respond with the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful.  I use Berry’s formula almost every day.

So here’s how it works for me.  Let’s say I am at a walking down the street and I’m approached by someone I’ve known for a while and am hoping to develop into a donor.  When she pops the question, I might say something like, (The Good) ”You know, we have been so fortunate at ABN.  We’re a membership organization and when the pandemic hit, we were really worried about whether our members would be able to afford to renew their memberships.  But, the truth is that we have more members now than we had before COVID and we think that speaks to the value our members believe we bring to the table.” (The Bad)  “Of course, with the Delta variant ravaging so many in our community, we are a bit worried about what the future holds in terms of training and consulting revenue, so we are really having to tighten our belts. But I’m confident we’ll weather the storm.” (The Beautiful) “But, let me tell you what inspires me to get out of bed every morning.  Several months ago, I went to see a prospective donor about a gift to support our programs.  He told me that he would be interested in creating a scholarship fund for nonprofits in his home county.  He gave us $25,000 and we got the word out quickly.  Shortly after we made the announcement, we were approached by a women’s shelter who asked for money to create a website.  We made the grant and on the very first day the website went live, a man in that county brutally attacked his wife, destroyed her phone and locked her in a room so she couldn’t escape while he was out.  But he forgot to take out her computer.  When he left, she immediately started searching for help and within minutes, she found the website we had funded.  And by the end of the day, she was in a safe place and he had been arrested.  I get our of bed every morning because at ABN, we change lives and we save lives.”

That answer took about 80 seconds.  Less than a minute and a half to tell our story in a way that might really touch the heart of a future supporter. 

So when you are asked, “How’s it going?”  Don’t miss the opportunity.  Remember the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful.

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