“People think when you write and you create you are the person in control and you are making all this happen as if you’re some kind of magician or something. But it’s not really that. You sit there and you become an antenna and you just let things happen through you. And the more you let it happen, the more you relinquish control, I think the more beautiful it is. It becomes something that has almost nothing to do with you. And if people like the songs and they get played on the radio, or sold at stores, played in bars around the world or whatever, they aren’t yours anymore, they have nothing to do with you anymore. If I hear a song of mine someplace, it’s like I had nothing to do with it. And I love that feeling.” – Jack White, Handsome and Talented Musician, Brilliant Storyteller
And I’m in love with this feeling too, Jack White.
You’re planning your next fundraising campaign. Listen to Jack White: be an antenna.
Channel your donors. Reconnect with the infectious energy that surrounds you when you want to make change in the world. That is, after all, why your organization was founded in the first place…
Ask yourself what you want to say (what’s the story) and why you want to share it (how does it connect to your donor’s values and give them a way to take action). Immerse yourself in the story you are trying to tell…push past your schedule and your budget and your Comms department… Be an antenna.
I promise you that your most successful fundraising projects will have one thing in common: your donors own it. Purchasing an acre of rainforest, buying a truck, sponsoring a child… In these classic cases, your charity is a way to connect your donor to what they cherish. You tell amazing stories, build a stunning case, inspire donors to take action.
When you do it right, it becomes something that has almost nothing to do with you.
Oh, and how I would give my fundraising kingdom if more charity people could “relinquish control”. Twice in the last few months, John and I have been kicking each other under board room tables when clients say something similar to “we can’t do that, it’s too off brand for us and it will confuse our donors”. Seriously. Ugh.
Be an antenna. If you’re sharing great stories that connect your donors to the core values of your cause, and what they can do about it, that’s likely more “on brand”, more emotionally real and more powerful than anything else you’ve done in a long, long time.
And if you’re lucky, and your donors are even luckier, you’ll also break every stupid rule in your “branding guide”.
While you’re listening to Mr. Jack White about being an antenna, also enjoy listening to this live version of Hotel Yorba, because it’s the right thing to do.