No Diva's Here
This isn’t the post I intended to publish.
My original post was a list of do’s and don’ts for fundraising event organizers. Maybe I’ve attended too many events. Maybe I’m still a little scarred from the last crowded, overly long, poorly catered event I attended. The post was a rant. A pretty angry one.
A very kind SVP staff member told me that I needed to rewrite the original post. It’s too angry, she said in the gentlest way possible.
That got me thinking. Yes, I’m a little angry about fundraising events that go awry. But mostly I’m frustrated. Frustrated because staff members and volunteers spend countless hours on these events and, despite their best intentions, the guest experience is sometimes lacking. I’m also frustrated to see multiple organizations make the same set of mistakes. I want to inspire them to change, to do better, to think through their choices from a donor’s perspective.
So I’ve been thinking about the most persuasive way to inspire change. In some cultures, angry rants might work. But insults and accusations rarely inspire me to change. Vu does a great job using humor to make his point. But not everyone can pull it off. Often, what inspires me most is positive encouragement and coaching.
My mixed doubles tennis partner reminded me of the effectiveness of this approach. He’s about a foot taller than me, a lot more experienced, and a much stronger player. In order for us to win as a team, he needed to help me get better quickly. He did so with positive encouragement and coaching.
When I hit the ball into the net during a match, he would gently offer a suggestion. When I repeated the mistake, he calmly repeated the advice. When I followed his suggestion, he gave me a high-five or a nod and we moved on to the next point.
This approach worked for me because I always had the sense that we were in it together. We both knew if I played better, our team would do better. A result we both wanted. Also, he recognized that I might not be able to implement his suggestion right away. It might take a little trial and error to get it right. Finally, his suggestions usually led to a positive result.
My partner could have been a tennis diva – angrily criticizing me, flaunting his superior experience and skill, demanding a new partner. But, instead, he worked with me and I was able to up my game and, together, we won some tough matches.
I’m planning on taking this lesson into my nonprofit work and the next time I want to inspire change and improvement I’ll act like a patient coach and not a diva.