The Cocktail Party Test: Is Your Enthusiasm Contagious?

waiter carrying cocktails

Have you ever noticed that fundraisers tend to make “civilians” a little nervous when they’re around? It’s like they’re afraid a pickpocket just walked into the room. Announce that you’re a fundraiser, and watch as everybody checks to make sure you didn’t lift their wallet on the way in.

OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but I’ve seen my share of strange reactions when fundraisers share their career choice. What kinds of comments do you get when you tell folks what you do? I’ve overheard responses like, “Ugh, I could never ask strangers for money!” and, “Well, I hope you didn’t bring your begging bowl with you tonight – this is a friendly party.”

Let Your Enthusiasm Shine

Fundraisers need to have a thick skin. Between comments like the above, pressure from the board, and rejection from prospects, it can be a tough job. You have to believe wholeheartedly in your organization’s mission, love fundraising, and love that you get paid to help help make the world a better place.

But you also have to let that love show — both to be effective as a fundraiser,  and to be welcome at neighborhood picnics. And why not? How can you not love fundraising? The organization you work for brings good into the world every day, and you are an integral part of that transformation. You’ve got the right to be sincerely proud of being a fundraiser; to be enthusiastic about fundraising; and, okay, to even be a little corny about it (besides, a sense of humor is an essential people — and marketing —  skill). Do not be afraid to show your fundraising enthusiasm!

The Test

So how do you know what other people see when they meet you? To find out what kind of image you’re projecting, try this experiment at the next function you attend.  With half a dozen people gathered around, introduce yourself and in 10 words or less tell them what you do.  Now – does the group immediately race to the bar? Or do they gather a little closer as someone asks:

“Really?  Tell me more.”

If they ran for the bar, you need to work on both your elevator pitch and your enthusiasm.

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