Those of us in the mission-driven arts resource business (this means YOU), all have stories about the moment you connected to a donor from the business community—an authentic, real MOMENT when you and your organization connect either professionally or personally with the businessman/woman on the other side of the desk, cocktail, or dinner table.
Sometimes it happens right away. Sometimes a relationship takes months, even years, to develop.
And sometimes, that moment of truth reveals a dead-end future, or more painfully, spells the end to an existing relationship. Here is some of my best advice based on my own experiences—I hope it’s helpful:
1. Always bear in mind that money is the means to an end, not an end to itself. This premise has ripples—it means you won’t compromise your mission for money. It means you won’t get ahead of yourself in a conversation and talk about money before you talk about mission. And it means you MUST understand what your potential business partner values. For him or her, money is the means to an end as well.
2. You have to do your homework. Just like you, the person sitting across from you woke up with a notion of what a successful day looks like. Before you walk into any business, large or small, do a little research. What does the business do? How and where do they do it? How are they doing? What are the external pressures bearing on THEM? Most businesses have vision and mission statements of their own. Look them up. The old adage of “seek to understand before being understood,” comes to mind. Read the rest of this entry »