Getting Better Fundraising Results Easily

Advanced Fundraising With NLP
by Mary-Jane Hilton

Insanity, according to American inventor and philosopher Benjamin Franklin, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For many years, my approach to fundraising teetered on the edge of ‘insanity’ – I kept doing the same things over and over again and expecting to get different results. I wanted to raise well in excess of my capital campaign targets, upgrade annual giving programmes; increase my direct mail responses; improve my telemarketing appeals and bequest programmes; identify many more new benefactors and upgrade the giving levels of existing benefactors. And when I didn’t reach my ambitious goals, I thought the problem was due to some external event (the vagaries of the economy, negative media reports, or even the result of decisions made by the rest of the management team). Because I didn’t know any better, I continued to repeat the same development methods and foolishly believed that the results would improve sooner or later. They didn’t. Then I was introduced to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and learnt techniques (that I am about to share with you) that enabled me to apply new improved methods to my fundraising. At long last, I began to achieve profoundly better results. By now you’re probably wondering what this mysterious NLP is, how it works and how quickly you can get some of it yourself! NLP is essentially a study of personal excellence. It’s concerned with how top people in different fields get outstanding results and how their thinking and behaviour patterns can be copied by anyone to achieve the same level of results. It also allows us to understand our behaviour and the behaviour of others so that our communication improves. One of the most precise definitions of NLP that I have found comes from Dr Harry Alder, author of ‘NLP – The New Art And Science Of Getting What You Want.’ He says, “It [NLP] is concerned with what happens when we think, and the effect of our thinking on our behaviour and the behaviour of others. ... NLP teaches us how to communicate, inwardly and outwardly, in a way that can make the difference between mediocrity and excellence.” Two men, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, founded NLP in the early 1970s in California. Bandler, a mathmetician, computer expert and psychotherapist had been editing transcripts of Gestalt Therapy. As he edited the transcripts, Bandler began to notice that there was an underlying structure or pattern to what the therapist was doing in his very successful work with clients. Until Bandler mentioned this, the therapist had no conscious awareness of it. Shortly afterwards, Bandler met John Grinder, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University who was carrying out research into the hidden

grammar of thought and action. They decided to combine their talents to explore the underlying structures used by successful people. They began by studying three outstanding therapeutic communicators: Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir and Dr Milton H. Erikson, who was believed to be one of the 6 greatest hypnotherapists of all time. All three had reputations for helping their clients make dramatic and lasting changes in their lives. Bandler and Grinder were able to discover and identify the underlying structures or patterns used by each of these people to achieve their consistent and outstanding results. Following their observation of Virginia Satir’s work they were able to replicate the patterns she used to produce relationship resolutions for her clients, and teach those patterns to their students. The students applied the patterns to their own clients and were able to produce the same quality of results despite their relative inexperience. Bandler and Grinder went on to work with people from many different areas of life including the sporting world; major corporations; the US military and the US government. They were interested in what structures were being used both internally and externally in an individual when they achieved excellence. They discovered that they could study successful people in any area and identify these underlying structures that guaranteed a successful result. They were then able to teach these structures to other people by offering a way of understanding how each individual operates mentally, physically and emotionally, and how they make sense of their experiences and interact with others. As Bandler and Grinder’s research expanded they began seeking a name that would encompass the discoveries they were making in their studies of how an individual structures their subjective experiences; creates their different emotional states and is influenced by their values and beliefs. The name they chose was Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), which brings the three areas of their studies together: • • Neurology deals with the mind and our thinking processes and gives an awareness of how we use our five senses to understand what is happening around us. Linguistics refers to the words and phrases we use; how we put them into action and the way they indicate our mental states. Linguistic also deals with our non-verbal language including movements, gestures and habits which in turn reveal our thinking patterns, values and beliefs. Programming is simply a number of steps designed to bring about a certain outcome. The outcomes we achieve and the effects we create in ourselves and other people are the results of our personal programmes.

There is a sequence of behaviour and thinking patterns that result in our experiences. An awareness of these sequences can help us identify the structure of our own and other people’s experience.

So we can say that NLP deals with how people relate and communicate, how they make decisions, and how they prefer to be influenced. Once we have this information about a person we are then able to match their representations of the world; in other words we can build instant rapport with them. A tool beyond measure for fundraisers!

Mary-Jane Hilton has worked as a professional fundraiser for over 20 years on 3 continents and offers consultations, coaching and training in all aspects of fundraising, capital campaigns, and direct development work -- specialising in fundraising for schools, charities and professional orchestras.

Copyright 2007 Mary-Jane Hilton