No Crying in Fundraising?

You may remember the famous line from Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own when one of his players tears up and he says, “There’s no crying in baseball.”  It’s just one of the millions of messages we get in our lives that “crying is bad”.

I contend that for fundraising . . .crying, or at least deeply felt emotion…can be a very good thing.

I’m a storyteller. . . and I do a lot of trainings to teach others about how to find the good stories in their organizations—how to interview people and really ‘dig in’ for the good stuff.  And what I often hear from folks is, “I didn’t want to ask her that because I was afraid to make her cry.”

But here’s the thing. If you interview a donor whose daughter was served by your organization, or a board member who has dedicated his life to the cause or a person who is alive today because of your organization —doesn’t it make sense that he or she will get a bit emotional?  Sure it does.

Those really heartfelt stories help you bring your mission to life for your donors—and that’s good for fundraising.  Emotional stories show your donors that you are not just an institution with a bank account to collect their check, but that your work (and their dollars) can actually make people’s lives better.

And here’s the best part –if someone gets emotional during a conversation with you about your organization’s work, it’s going to contribute to that person’s healing and deepen your insights into why the work matters. That’s a win for everybody.

One of the most beautiful interviews I ever conducted was with a woman whose husband had died of cancer and spent his final days in hospice care.  The wife cried through the entire interview—for more than an hour.  The result was that her husband’s loving journey inspired other families to help build an inpatient hospice care center –and his wife and children have a beautifully written story to remind them of what a remarkable man he was.

That’s the power of what we do everyday.

So here’s to more crying in fundraising!


– Posted by Kathy Swayze, CFRE


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