Today’s question comes from Actor, Karaoke Star, Director and theatrical impresario, Norman Gee, who asks how he can raise millions of dollars for the non-profit arts company he works for.
The real question here is how to separate people, from their money, right? Once I was stowed away on the Orient Express, hiding in the luggage car, and enjoying the scenery as we were passing through Bucharest, and I couldn’t help notice how fancy were these trunks that I was sandwiched between, quite uncomfortably. As I ate my daily meal of grey snow scraped from the roof of the train car, I pondered over the alligator skin trunk with gold buckles in which I slept at night, nestled in a pile of silk underwear and mink. I thought of Montaigne’s line, “even those highest among us, still must sit upon their ass.” It was funny to me that both myself and the owner of this trunk were similar. Though I was poor and she was rich, we were essentially the same.
Perhaps this seems obvious, but we spend much time brewing and stewing over our differences. We think the young different than the old, and the poor to be altogether different from the rich. We assume the famous to be never lonely or sad, and the child to know less than the adult. It is rarely like this. Each of us wants to belong. Each needs love. Bread. Laughter.
Norman, a quick look on the “interweb” shows you there is much money out there being spent on very silly things, watches the size of plates, life-size robotic ponies, and these inventions of the Devil that are called Jeggings. The last being a diabolical and putrid mix of “jeans” and “leggings.”
Now, to get people to give you their money, whether you are raising money for kids to learn fire-eating or trying to sell them blanket snugglies, the following requirements must be met:
-They must be led to believe it is their privilege to give, not their duty. (Only limited supply left!)
-They must be flattered. No one is immune to flattery. Remember Sally Field, “You like me!” etc.
-They must be convinced that giving will get them something they want or need. No one gives selflessly. Even when I give to charity, I like little rush of happy it give me when I give dollar to someone on street. I think some karma coming to me. And science prove that giving to others result in endorphin rush for giver. Use this drug.
-Free food. You would be surprised how generous people get with a cheeseplate and some free wine. They start to feel rich and it lube up the checkbook. I used to work in catering, and when I work the Estonian Opera opening dinner, where one plate cost 5000.00 Kroons, the glow on the faces of these patrons was like cocaine enema. They were fleeced but happy. To them, they feel they make the show. They belong, see?
-Invest. It takes money to make money. See Wine and Cheese above.
-Network network network. Greeting someone you met once a year ago by their first name is impressive. Ask also about their wife Patty and they will sign over house to you.
So Norman, whether a person can give one dollar or a million, do not approach like beggar. Approach like a King who is deigning to give them permission to give you money.
Think about this, if the King of Estonia came up to you, adressed you by name and asked about your wife, then said he needed 500$ for circus tickets for the poor, you would give. Why? Because it is giving you a role to play.
So give them a role, put their name on a chair or on a toilet seat, whatever it takes. ABC:
Always Be Closing.
Good luck Norman, and yes I will talk to you about The Great Zamboni Soap Dispenser in lobby bathroom, if you wish. But I drive hard bargain too.
I’d wish you good luck, if I believed in it.