Real success in fundraising happens when you become a trusted advisor, a person who is sought out for his advice and support. This happened for me when companies started calling me between cause marketing programs for all sorts of cause marketing, social media, and giving advice.
I was happy to help them.
Being a trusted advisor solidified and grew my relationship with these companies and led to new opportunities. It also helped me survive better than others during tough times.
Becoming a trusted advisor doesn’t happen overnight. It requires character, competence, and confidence. Here’s how you can master the three C’s of credibility.
If you want to be trusted you have to be trustworthy. For me, this meant being honest with people about what cause marketing is, how it works, their responsibilities, and what it can accomplish. This meant not landing every sales call, or keeping every partner. But the ones I did close and keep were grounded in mutual interest and respect. Showing your partner that character is more than just a word puts “trust” in trusted advisor.
You also need to know what you’re talking about. You need to be trustworthy and competent. I’m an authority on cause marketing and up to speed on the latest programs and trends so you can identify areas of opportunity for my partners. It’s not enough to read someone’s blog and follow their advice (although I appreciate the traffic on my site, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). You need to learn and understand your particular nonprofit work for yourself. You need to be knowledgeable, insightful, and USEFUL.
Great. You have character and competence, but if you can’t communicate with confidence it might be all for naught. A trusted advisor is poised, professional, and knows how to play his or her part. They dress, act and speak in a way that demonstrates their confidence and reflects the confidence the don–umm, I mean the partner–has in them.
Trusted advisors know when to set their egos aside and truly listen as only a consigliere can.
The alternative is to be regarded with suspicion, and to live outside the inner circle of favor, influence, and protection where it’s easy to get whacked.