Do you feel like your ideas aren’t coming across, despite your expertise? Maryanne Dersch will show you how to pitch your ideas in a way that gets a yes, every time.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Okay. Maryanne, I’ve got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Maryanne: Yes, man. Let’s do it.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Welcome, everybody. So glad you’re here. Hope you’re having a good day. Good afternoon, good morning wherever you are. If you’re watching the recording, thanks for checking this out. We are here to talk about how to be more productive, powerful, and persuasive . . . that’s a good combo . . . with your board, staff, and your donors.

Thanks so much for tuning in. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a quick couple of housekeeping items. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, so if you have to leave early, or maybe you get interrupted, or you want to send it to a friend, that’s all good because we’re going to send you the recording. So be on the lookout for an email from me later on this afternoon. It will also have the slides. Don’t worry. We’ll get all that good stuff to you later today.

But most importantly, please feel free to use that chat screen on your Zoom window there because we’re going to save some time for Q&A. So we’d love to hear from you. I know a lot of have you already introduced yourselves. That’s awesome. Do that if you haven’t already. There’s also a Q&A box. So you can use either of those. No problem. We’d love to hear from you. Don’t sit on those hands. Don’t be shy. You can even send us a tweet if you want. I’ll keep an eye on Twitter. But bottom line is we would love to hear from you.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special shout out to you first-timers. We do these webinars every Thursday. We’ve done hundreds of sessions over the last 10 years or so and gotten to be a little bit known for the webinar series.

But if you don’t know what Bloomerang is, if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang beyond the webinars, we’re donor management software. So check that out if you’re interested or just curious. You can watch all kinds of videos on our website and check us out. But don’t do that right now because my buddy Maryanne is here from beautiful St. Louis.

Maryanne, what’s going on? Are you doing okay?

Maryanne: I’m doing great, Steven.

Steven: It’s awesome to have you. We were joking before because you did this great event a couple of weeks ago and I was your guest. Now the tables have turned and we get to hear from you, which is way better than hearing from me.

Maryanne: Yeah, I put on a Donor Attraction Forum and it was awesome. It was great.

Steven: It was awesome. I’ll send a link to that in the chat after you get going because folks who want to get in touch with you . . . which people should. Maryanne is awesome. Great newsletter. It’s always a kind of a pep talk in my inbox when that comes in. It’s all this good stuff. And yeah, she does this all the time. She’s speaking. She’s giving workshops. Some of you may have actually seen her at Cause Camp, which was last week, right?

Maryanne: Yeah. Last Tuesday.

Steven: Last Tuesday. Yeah, that’s an awesome event.

Maryanne: It was exceptional. Yeah, I loved it.

Steven: Yeah. That’s always a good one. And I love this topic because . . . I’m going to be listening intently because this is something I need help with. The 280 people or whatever here also do. So I’m going to pipe down and I’ll stop sharing my screen here, Maryanne, and I’ll let you bring up your slides if you want. I know you’ve got . . .

Maryanne: Yeah, I’ve got some stuff to share. All right. Let’s get this party started.

Steven: Cool. The floor is yours, my friend.

Maryanne: Thank you. All right. Welcome, everyone. You made a great decision to be here today. I’m so excited to share this information with you. I’ve been working in nonprofit space for many, many years, a lot of years. My first job was in 1992. There, I said it. And recently, for the last five years or so, I’ve really moved more into helping people communicate more effectively internally and interpersonally, because that’s where I saw the most need. We focus a lot on strategy and tools to fix things, and those are important, but also our mindset and perception.

Can I raise my volume? I can put the mic a little closer to me if that is helpful. All right. Okay. I’m hoping that’s better. Thank you.

All right. I’ll move in. Oh, yay. I want you to hear. Good feedback.

I’m going to talk to you about how to unlock your influence. So powerful, productive, and persuasive, that was what we talked about, and how you do that and influence. So what I’m going to share with you today is what influence is, what it isn’t, and how to use it in a way that moves other people easily into action.

What I was seeing was a lot of folks with really good ideas and those ideas would kind of fall flat. You don’t know how to make the change that you want inside your organization. You see so much potential for it and there’s really no way to get it. So I’m going to explain a lot of amazing techniques that you can use right away.

Now, there’s not a ton of content on these slides. The slides are guides. I’m here to guide you if you want to take some notes or watch the recording. But here’s one thing that I always start every presentation that I do with: a promise. And my promise to you is that you will have three or four actionable items, tools, ways of communicating that you can implement today, right now, no problem, to start getting more response from your efforts and getting those problems . . .

I really work with people on like chronic problems, like, “I tried and tried to get the board to do this,” or, “I’ve tried and tried to get somebody to see this as a problem and it’s just not working.” And so my promise is you’re going to be able to start unlocking those chronic situations.

And really, what I want to share with you is . . . Steve and I were just talking about we both got the vax. Things opening up and also I feel like we really are just getting a handle now on what COVID has done to the communities that we serve.

And I feel like what this whole last year and a half or whatever has taught us is how important each individual is to the process and how you are important to what you do and how we all just need to up-level a little bit, like bust through some fears, create more alignment in our lives, and work from that higher place, that higher knowing self.

I feel like we’re all being called to step into that, and that’s really what I help organizations and individuals do, is just play at that next level, that next higher level where you’re more productive, you’re more positive, you feel in the flow, you’re getting stuff done, every day doesn’t feel like a battle anymore.

That’s what we need because we . . . I use a quote a lot of times. I say this a lot to people. You give from the overflow, not the depths of your well. And my mission today is just to help fill your well a little bit so you’re giving from an energy-rich place, not from scarcity, and fear, and overwhelm.

Full disclosure, I have electricians on the second floor who are doing some work. So if you hear banging, that’s why. Nothing wrong is happening to me, but life goes on Bloomerang webinar or not. I’ve gotten some remodeling going up there. And if you get my emails, you’ll see. I tell a story of the remodeling that I’ll tell you today and a change management theory that I will share with you.

All right. So first, I want to say this is how we’re typically taught to get our ideas across or to get somebody to do something is we have to sell them, we have to pitch them, we have to convince them, we have to push them, we have to dominate them. And even when organizations say to me, “We need a pitch deck,” I’m like, “Do you really?”

I want you to really remember this phrase. If you remember nothing else, remember this: People hate to be sold but they love to buy. Now, what does that mean, people hate to be sold, but we love to buy?

I know I don’t really like pitch decks either, and I’m going to tell you why that is. Yet we insist on using them. And I’m going to talk about that a little bit too.

So we don’t have to worry about pitching, selling, convincing, pushing. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy. Now, what does that mean, they hate to be sold, they love to buy? In our brains, in the back of our brain here is our instinct, that fight or flight. When somebody pushes an idea on us or tries to sell us, we go into instinct mode, fight or flight.

Our instinct was designed to keep us safe when the world was a lot less scary and you could get eaten by a bear. Well, now our instinct triggers, “Is a bear running at us or is the sales person from the dealership coming across the parking lot at us?” Either way, it’s going to trigger that fight or flight. “You can’t make me buy anything,” or, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

And so when we pitch ideas, people tend to go into the back of their brain and now they’re kind of poking holes at your idea. They’re feeling like they’re on the defense. We want to move people out from here, the fight or flight, this fear-based response, “What is happening to me? What do they want? Why are they asking?” into up here, which is our prefrontal cortex. Our prefrontal cortex of our brain is where . . . it’s kind of like the R&D. It’s like new information. It’s that open part.

And so how can we get people from back here to here? Well, if they hate to be sold but they love to buy, we love to buy because we’re choosing it, right? I love shoes. I love to buy shoes. I don’t want anybody to sell me shoes. I want to buy them because I’m in control, and when I feel in control, then I relax and I’m open. I’m open to what’s going on here.

And yet we’re always told you have to pitch and you have to sell. And I’m explaining to you a way that in my experience has been much more effective for the people that I work with, that I coach and train. I have hundreds of people who use these models that I’m showing you today to get better results.

It can be difficult. So one of the things that we’re going to talk about is how you create change, because these are some new ideas I’m going to give you. And so I’m going to give you these new ideas and then some ways to implement them inside your organization.

Now, before I go into a little bit of that, I want to just really define why I use the word influence, because we are using that word a lot these days. It’s like, “Influencer!” That is not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about manipulating people. I’m not talking about mind tricks or anything. But influence is your ability to easily get people to do what you want them to do.

Now, I’m going to say that again. Sorry. It’s easily get people you have no authority over to do what you want them to do, and sometimes even people you do have authority over, getting them to do what you want them to do.

It’s a skill because when you have influence, you have everything. And in my work, when I started teaching and training people influence, I realized, “If I can teach you influence, marketing is so much easier. Fundraising is so much easier. Board relationships are so much easier because you understand how to easily ask for and receive what you want and need.” You can easily enroll people in your vision. You don’t feel so alone. You feel supported, like there’s this army of support around you ready to access.

And what I found is that the client and the leaders that I coach and train were able to thrive in any circumstance, meaning, “COVID, you can’t scare me. I know I’ve got my people on my side.”

And so that’s what I want to talk about, is how to get people you have no authority over . . . that board, those donors, your boss, even staff members, coworkers, community partners, consultants like me, how do you get people you have no authority over to do what you want them to do?

Now, before I go into that, I want to share a little bit about my story. I tell my story a lot because it really shapes why I do what I do. So those of you who know me or who have seen me present know that the fundamental founding thing about me is I was a very late-in-life child. My mom and dad had four kids in five, almost six years, and seven years later, I was born. And my whole life, I sort of felt like a mistake.

We live in St. Louis and my dad worked for Anheuser-Busch. He was a brand manager for Anheuser-Busch. He was like Don Draper but on the client side. Their tagline, Michelob’s tagline at the time, was “the unexpected pleasure.” So in my family, everybody called me Michelob, which was hilarious to them. But also, little kids don’t really have discernment filters, right? And I always felt like I was left out and left behind.

And that affected me in a couple of ways. First of all, I developed a deep sense of empathy, because I understood what it felt like to be left out and I also was able to then really connect with people who weren’t my age and were a lot different than me. That’s what I did every day because I dealt with . . . there was nobody in my house that was my age. I had no peers and I got very adept at dealing with different kinds of people.

And then the other way that I really dealt with this was I became an overachiever. Because I felt like I was a mistake, I was like, “Well, I’m going to have . . . you guys get to be here. You get all the love and grace from me, but I’m down here. So then I’ve got to be up here just so I can be even with you.” And that really filtered my world. So I was an exceptional overachiever. I had to do everything 100 million percent.

Fast forward many years, and I was sitting in a therapist’s office and I was complaining to her that my friend had criticized me and how bad that made me feel. And she said, “Well, praise and criticism are the same thing.” I was like, “Well, that’s super ridiculous because praise feels really good and criticism feels really bad.” And she said, “Well, they’re just other people’s opinions of you, and a whole person doesn’t need praise to feel good and can manage criticism when it happens.”

And in that moment, I swear, all of you listening . . . this is a true story. In that moment, two things came forward right away. The first one is, “Wow. I need to understand and own my value as I am, that I am not a mistake. I’m a miracle. And I need to own my value. That I am enough.” And in that moment, I also thought, “Oh my God, all my nonprofit clients are completely terrified of criticism and overly dependent on praise.”

Please put this in the chat if this is resonating with you. We’re nonprofit. We’re defined by what we’re not, not what we are. So in a sense, we’re conditioned to be like I was as a kid, like, “I’m down here, so I have to be completely amazing just so I can be on neutral territory.”

In our world, in our economy, success of a company is based on its ability to make a profit, and we’re not profit. We’re a nonprofit. Well, if we’re not allowed to make a profit, then what is our value? We’re defined by what we’re not, a tax code, instead of what we are?

I call them human investment companies. I don’t know if that’s a perfect title, but I think it’s closer than nonprofit. But we’re the safety net. We’re the heart. We’re the arts. Everything that’s rich and beautiful comes from the nonprofit space.

So that became my mission then to help organizations really understand their value so that they don’t have to be like this. They can be honest and authentic and make real connections. That became my work.

Literally, once I had that experience, my book just flowed out of me. I tried to write a book for a year and a half. I couldn’t quite figure it out. That happened.

I have these YouTube videos where I go through a lot of these concepts. I have a podcast called “The Influential Nonprofit” where I interview nonprofit leaders around how they use their influence and how they enroll easily, enroll others in their vision. And this really became my life’s work, and I love it, which is really cool because I do it all the time.

So before I get started in the meat of this, you can go to I have a couple of things for you. One is this ebook. It’s called “Stop Sitting Back and Start Making Change.” This is a great little thing. A lot of the concepts that I’m sharing with you today are in this ebook. It might be nice for you to maybe borrow to a board member or something like that. Plant some seeds.

And then another thing is a difficult conversations guide. So this is a step-by-step template that I use in my trainings that I’m giving to you guys that’s exactly how to have a conversation that relieves the tension for both parties. And I use this in fundraising too. So how can we have a conversation where there’s not so much pressure around the ask and we’re both sitting there stressful but no one knows how to talk about it? So this is a template to do that. I use this in my life every day. It totally works.

I want you all to make sure you grab that. Just go to and you can have those goodies.

Let me explain something. I’m going to take a deep breath and get ready. All right. Here we go.

This concept that I’m sharing with you right now is called the Triad of Change. It was developed by somebody named Dr. Donald Epstein, who was a chiropractor by training but really worked with people to heal their lives.

I love this model because, for me, it explains a lot why when you try to implement change it doesn’t exactly stick. And if you are on my email list, this is the email that you got today. I’m talking about the Triad of Change.

So let me just explain this for a second. So there’s perception, behavior, and structure. Perception is how you think and feel about something. Behavior, of course, is how you act, how you move, how you hold your body. And then structure is systems. It’s like what you have. So perception is how you feel, behavior is what you do, structure is what you have.

All three of those sides of those triangles are needed to make change. I can teach you how to think differently, how to change your mindset around money and fundraising, and for that to really stick, we need some behaviors and some structure to keep it in place.

So let’s say we’re working on changing our relationship with fundraising. If I can say, “Fundraising isn’t a burden. It’s a gift,” that’s a shift in perception.

So what’s then a corresponding behavior that could go along with that? Well, if it’s a gift, who can I give this gift to? Maybe I’m starting to ask or build relationships around getting money. That’s a behavior.

And a structure could be I’m working with my board, let’s say, to be more active in fundraising.

Well, I’m going to shift their perception. I’m going to give them or they can come up . . . I like it better when they can come up with some stuff to do around fundraising. And then what’s the structure we can put in place? Maybe that looks like we talk about fundraising and development at every board meeting. Maybe it’s some kind of system of accountability. But you need that structure, that long-term structure because just a shift in perception isn’t enough.

Now, we can start at any point in this. You can start with structure and say, “From now on, we’re going to talk about fundraising at every board meeting. And in that, we’re going to come up with some behaviors because then those behaviors will then change perception.”

Or you could start with behavior. “Let’s try some phone calls. Was that so bad? No, that’s was great. I really love that.” Great. I’ve shifted your perception. “Now, let’s do five calls a month. Was that okay with you?” “Yeah. I could do five calls a month.” Now I have structure. So we need all three together.

In your life you say, “I want to exercise.” That’s a behavior. But your behavior, if you don’t like exercise or if you don’t like the type of exercise you’re doing, if your perception doesn’t shift, then that behavior is not going to stick.

So one of the stories I told today was we have an electrician because we’re remodeling the house. Y’all, I don’t know about your house, but my house took a beating over COVID and I had to forgive my house and my children the other day. I’m like, “Of course it’s a mess because we’ve been at home 24/7 for more than a year.”

I have teenagers and they’re supposed to be at school and sports all day. So I was like, “Well, the structure.” So we decided to remodel. Because we’re remodeling our master bedroom, my husband and I are sleeping off an addition in our house, which is off two kids’ bedrooms. So we changed the structure of the house and now we’ve changed the behavior.

We’re sleeping in different spaces, and because we’re sleeping in different spaces, we’re sleeping much closer to our kids, and now the perception of the house on our kids is changing. There’s a little bit higher level of connection. Well, first we have to walk through their rooms to get to the room we’re in. It’s not super convenient. Also, we can hear them and be closer to them.

It’s just been a really interesting study in the Triad of Change, because the structure definitely changed our behavior, and now we’re thinking and feeling differently about each other.

I’m going to give you one more example of this. I was coaching someone a couple of . . . this has been a while. And she said, “Our staff . . .” She was the president of the board. I love when board members and board presidents want to work with me because they’re just the key to everything. She said, “The staff doesn’t participate in the board meetings.” I was like, “All right. So tell me about this. The staff doesn’t participate in the board meeting?” She’s like, “Yeah.” And I said, “Okay.” She said, “Well, the board members are all around a table and the staff is kind of lined up against the wall. I think it feels like a firing squad and they just sit there.”

I’m like, “So first thing, let’s change the structure of the meeting. Can we change it so that everyone is around the table together, like everyone is around the table and it feels even?” Because they’re around the table and these guys are against the wall. It’s like, “Okay, that structure is not promoting the behavior of being able to speak up.”

So let’s change the structure first, how that room fits. Then we’ll change the behavior, which is to shift their perception of, “I can speak up. I am equal. We’re all here solving a problem together. Let’s drop that hierarchy and sit around the table together and really solve problems.” Change that perception so that we can change behavior so the staff feels more comfortable actually speaking the truth at a board meeting.

Does that make sense?

You can look and say, “I can start anywhere. I can start at structure. I can start at behavior. I can start at perception.” There will typically be the one that’s going to jump out to you the most.

And so, in that case, it was like . . . And she’s like, “Oh my God, I never even thought about that before.” I said, “Yeah, because when we change that structure, then we’re sending a different message, which allows them to shift perception, which allows them to then change behavior.”

If we would’ve said, “Hey, you guys, you get to speak up at board meetings and we really want you to do this and here’s why . . .” They’re not getting it. But when we change all three of those, then you can actually effect change. Isn’t that awesome? I just love that.

Now I want you to think about stuff and you’re like, “Okay, now I get why that didn’t land. We shifted perception and behavior. We didn’t have the structure. We kind of started it and it fell away,” or, “We have the structure, but nobody really bought into the idea. Okay, cool. Excellent.” So think about that.

I want to share this. “My executive director very often has met directly . . . and meet with our board on my own to help change the relationship. It has been huge for their buy-in for development and willingness to pitch in.” Yes, yes, yes.

I was actually coaching someone the other day and I was encouraging her to be a part of the board meetings for just that exact reason, to really enhance those relationships and to really send the message, “We’re all here together to solve problems.” Let’s just collapse that hierarchy and just get down to work. That’s what I want.

Let me just stop this for a sec. I’m going to share with you the three secrets to influence. Here we go. Now, I’m going to share with you three big things and they’re kind of counter-intuitive, so just hold on with me while we go through these. Just dig in.

So, first of all, the first secret to influence is to cultivate your energy. And what I mean by that is what you put out is exactly what you’re going to get back. So when you want someone to show up differently, to behave differently, to act differently, you have to show up differently first. You have to be willing to show up differently.

So one of the things I work people on is just raising your standards for what is acceptable and not acceptable, because somewhere along the line something became unacceptable, or acceptable that was not really acceptable. And having that ownership of, “How can I have 100% ownership of . . .” I’m kind of messing with the board a lot today, but this example just keeps coming. “How can I have 100% ownership that my board is not engaged?” When I have 100% ownership, that means not responsibility, not your fault, just ownership. “What did I do to contribute to this? How can I then move past that and come up with something new?”

And so whatever you put out there is what you’re going to get back. What I mean by that is if you’re putting out fear, if you’re putting out uncertainty, that’s what you’re going to get back. If you’re putting out confidence, if you’re putting out calm, that’s what you’re going to get back.

And I’m not saying fake it. What I work with people on is really finding that true place in you, coming from that higher-knowing self, that leader inside of you, showing up with that person, because that’s what you’re going to get back.

When I’m talking about power, when I’m with a donor, I’m like, “Please give. You have the money. You have the power. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the power.” I’m coming from that energetic and that’s what I’m going to get back.

So let me just show you something really quick, and you’ll get these slides and the recording. I don’t want to spend a ton of time with this, but I want to share with you that being conscious of how you show up is huge. There are a lot of people in this world who have no conception of how they show up, or maybe you do and you just don’t want to do anything about it.

I hear people say, “Well, I’m just impatient. That’s how I am. That’s just who I am,” or, “I’m a procrastinator. That’s who I am.” And when you create these identities for yourself, you’re really limiting your ability to show up differently.

So let’s just look at this chart for a second. The lowest energetic of leadership is oblivious. That means I am completely unaware of my state and the impact it’s having on others. I have no idea that what I do has any impact on others. Teenagers. If you have teenagers or toddlers, they’re pretty oblivious and they don’t care, right?

Now, powerless is I am aware of my state but feel unable to affect it. I’m just crabby. It’s just who I am, or I’m not a people person. I feel unable to shift that perception.

Then there’s efficient, which means I developed the ability to choose and authentically alter my state. Efficient means, “Okay, I just left a meeting that was really upsetting. Now I’m going into another meeting. I don’t want to bring that into this with me. How can I choose something different? How can I realign myself and say, ‘Let’s just set that aside. I’m going to show up in service to this person and then I can go back and deal with that thing later’?” We sometimes bring stuff with us and we don’t mean to, right?

I will, Olga. That’s a great question.

So efficient and then there’s effective, which is you’re able to exist effectively in all states and scenarios. That means y’all can do what you need to do. I’m going to manage myself.

And then it’s actually leverage, which is my presence actually helps other people move through these stages. So I can help other people become more conscious of how they show up, because when they are and they’re actively choosing a better state to connect in, then we’re all going to get more done.

And so just understanding the first thing is . . . and I am somebody who I wrote a book about how to communicate. I am a master of messaging and words. That’s what I worked with organizations on. For 20 years, that’s what I did.

And I can tell you that energy speaks louder than words. If your energy doesn’t match your messaging, it’s going to fall flat. That’s our BS detector. We’re very intuitive, us people here, right? We’re very intuitive. We’ve got each other and we can read people very quickly and are like, “Mm-mm. I don’t believe her. I don’t care, and I don’t believe her,” because her energy is not matching her, or she’s saying something but it’s not jumping in for me.

And when I’m talking about feeling down here . . . so if I’m creating messaging for you that’s like, “Oh, we’re amazing. We do the stuff,” but internally that organization doesn’t really have that value, doesn’t believe that, doesn’t embody that, they feel like they don’t have a lot to offer or people don’t really connect with them . . .

I hear a lot of people tell me a lot of stories, like, “We’re really complicated. We don’t have a mission that people can really connect to. It’s hard to tell our story.” Those are stories that tell me that you’re not owning your value.

And what I’m working with you to do is then connect with your true value because when you do that, then your energy is matching your words and you understand the true power that you have. And so all those messages that we create are going to really land.

What I see happening a lot, and this is why I do what I do, but I see it as we want this external branding to make us feel better about ourselves as an organization, and that’s not going to work. You have to influence yourself first and then you can influence others. So I need to make sure that I am influencing myself, that me as an individual, I understand my value, the power that I bring into a situation, and then I can help others do that. Then we can do that organizationally as well. We can understand the value that we bring. Then we can come at it from this energy-rich place.

And so the energy speaks louder than words. For me, that is the biggest thing that I see, is people are saying one thing but they’re meeting another. That’s when your ideas kind of fall away and you’re not as powerful as you can be.

Now, I got a question about responsibility versus ownership, and this is a big thing. I’m going to give you a scenario. So my son is almost 17. And I’ll just tell you this little personal story. We were in the car and he got mad and he went like this. I’ll just do it this way because I don’t want to hit the mic. He just went, “Ugh,” and hit me in the chest. He didn’t punch me, but he just was like, “Ugh.” Whoa, that is not okay in our house.

We were in the car and I pulled over and I was like . . . we were a couple blocks from his girlfriend’s house. I said, “You need to walk the rest of the way and we’ll deal with this in a little bit.”

I thought, “Okay, I’m not responsible for my kid smacking me across the seat, but how can I have ownership over that?” He was mad at me about money, and so it’s not my fault. It’s not my responsibility, but how can I have ownership? So I said, “Okay, how can I have ownership over this situation, which seemed totally not about me? Well, I did cause some frustration because in the past I have been not consistent with how I deliver money to him. And so I had to own that. And that’s why he was mad. He was mad about that inconsistency.

Also, how can I have ownership over my response? So my response was, “Let’s step away from each other so I can get regulated,” because I didn’t want to just start screaming back. That wasn’t going to help anybody. My kids are adopted. He has behavior issues. We see counselors. I’m very skilled in this. So how can I have 100% ownership? Not responsibility but ownership. Because then I can look and say . . .

Let’s say I have a staff person or a coworker or something and there was some kind of constant issue or something. How can I take 100% ownership? It’s not my fault, and yet it’s bothering me, not them, so I’m the solution. Once I have ownership, then the opportunity and the possibility for a solution comes up. If I’m just looking at them to change and not me, it’s not going to work. The solution is going to come from me. So when I can say, “How can I take 100% ownership?” . . .

The other day I was doing a webinar, and I have a VA and she got the link wrong. I set up a link and she set up a link, and I didn’t know there were two links. So people were trying to get into this webinar and they couldn’t. I was panicking and, “Technology is not my thing.” I was like, “Oh my God.” I could say, “VA, you did it wrong,” or how can I take 100% responsibility that that happened? Well, I didn’t check. So next time, I know I want to walk through each step and we’ll test all the links and do that.

That’s all I’m talking about. I can set up and blame everybody, or I can say, “How can I take 100% ownership for this happening to me?” Then the solutions will arise.

Okay. I’m going to keep going. Yes, “‘What can I do differently to get a different result?’ equals ownership.” How did I contribute to this? If I’m being really honest to myself, looking at “How did I contribute to this?” . . . because if I contributed to it, then I can solve it. That’s the big thing. I’ve got me. I can do me, right? So if I was the one who allowed the board to start flying their engagement flag at half-mast, all I have to do is raise the flag. If I have ownership over it, then I can have the solution. So it’s a very powerful concept.

I’m going to keep going because I want to share with you the other two secrets. Y’all, I get deep. This is not just . . . we go in there. This is what I love to do. All right. Let me go back.

So Secret 2 is listen. One of the first slides I showed you was we don’t have to pitch, convince, sell, blah, blah, blah. The less you speak, the more likely you are to have influence. So listen.

Now, I’m going to share with you . . . you’re like, “I’m in a meeting with a donor and I’ve got my slides, I’ve got my brochure and I can’t wait to tell this potential donor how awesome we are. And here I am. ‘Let me tell you how awesome we are.'” And then you tell them how awesome you are. “So what did you think of that? How did that go for you? How did that feel for you?” I’m pitching. Mm-mm.

Hold with me here. Let’s switch that around. I’ve got my slide, I’ve got my brochure, I’ve got all that. I love all those things. I made so many of them for many years, but I’m going to set that aside for now, because what I want to do is listen. I need to listen. My only job is to listen.

And when I’m saying listening, you don’t have to worry about what to say, you don’t have to worry about having all the answers, you don’t have to worry about solving anyone’s problem. All you have to do is listen. Just listen to what they’re saying. Deep listening, which means I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say next. I promise you the words will come.

I don’t know if y’all know Patrick Kirby. I did a Donor Attraction Forum a couple of weeks ago and he said to me, “If you don’t have all the answers, it’s even better because that gives you another touch point to follow up.” So don’t worry about what you’re going to say, and we listen.

And what you’re listening for are two things. One is what we call pains or gains. So pains are what hurts them. What’s keeping them up at night in the world, in their personal world, and in their bigger philanthropic heart? And then the gain. What legacy do they want to leave? What difference do they want to make in the world?

And you’re listening for those things, because what you’re looking for, my friends, is an opening. This is such the key, because in my listening, I’m saying . . . I’m with a donor, a potential donor. I don’t know them very well. I’m trying to get to know them. I have my thing about how great our organization is, and my first job is to listen who they are and what they want.

So I’m working with someone and he has an organization based in India. He wanted to talk to a donor, a potential donor, about sponsoring a conference for his staff in India and he used this technique. He’s talking with a potential donor and he says, “Tell me how business is going. What’s going on?” He’s like, “Oh my God, my staff is amazing.” And listening, Jonathan says, “What makes your staff amazing? I’d love to know.” He goes, “Oh, I put so much money into their professional development and it really pays off. I totally believe in staff training.”

Who’s got an opening now to talk to the donor about sponsoring this conference to train staff? “I’m so glad you said that because I would love for you to consider sponsoring this conference that I’m going to hold for my staff in India because I want to do exactly what you’re doing for your staff.” Now my idea has a context. My idea has meaning for them. I don’t have to pitch them.

Now, one of the reasons that they’re open to what you have to say is . . . remember I talked about the brain? Let me stop my share for a second. I talked about the brain. You’ve got back here and here, right? So when I pitch, I put people on the defensive. They go into fight or flight. When people feel seen and heard, when people feel understood and they feel what I call witnessed, they relax because there’s trust.

When they’re telling you a story and you’re like, “Wow. I can’t imagine. That must have been incredible,” or awful, or whatever, and then they’re like, “Yeah, it was,” they feel seen and heard and they relax. Then there’s trust. And when there’s trust, now they’re going to listen to what you have to say.

You want to build that trust first. Then they’ll listen. And in the end of this thing, I’ll invite you . . . you can book a call with me. I’m going to use the exact techniques. When people call, I listen.

And also, I want to say something about this. If there’s no opening, there’s no opening. If there’s no connection, then that’s okay. The point of all of this is in service to yourself and service to others. So I’m in service to that donor. If it’s not a good fit, then it’s not a good fit. And if there’s no opening, there’s no opening. You’re like, “Yeah, I’m just not seeing how we’re aligned.” That’s okay.

All of these concepts that I’m teaching you are rooted in abundance, which means there’s enough out there for all of us. The universe is limitless. So if that guy is not right, that’s cool. I’ll go find the guy who is.

And so I could release that because I know that I’m not putting a square peg . . . round-holing it, right? I’m not forcing it. If there’s an opening that feels aligned and good, I take it. If not, that’s okay too. Or you can continue the conversation. “It was great to get to know you.” And you can remember what you learned. If an opening comes up in the future, you’re like, “Hey, remember when you said that? I have something new and I’d love to tell you about it because I remember when you told me A, B, C.” And they’re like, “Yeah. Oh my God. First of all, you’re an amazing listener. Thank you for remembering. What is it?”

So it may not be in that moment, and that’s totally okay. But we want to find the opening. So instead of trying to, “Oh my God, I learned all this cool stuff. Let’s implement it” . . .

Let’s say you want to go to a board president, and you want to implement something in your organization, like, “I want to work with Maryanne. I’m going to go sell her.” No, you’re not going to do that. You say, “Tell me what your goals are for this organization. Tell me how you feel about your leadership,” or whatever it is to get them talking. I train people on how to get you talking, but I don’t have time to go through that today. Whatever gets them talking, right?

Now, whatever it gets them talking and then you say, “I’m so glad you said that because I have this idea.” And your idea then fits whatever opening that you find.

Now, I’m going to go through one more thing because I just looked up like, “Hey, was some time flying. Woohoo.”

Last thing I’m going to share with you is release the outcome. This sounds crazy, and it’s true. The more invested you are in the outcome, the less likely you’re going to see the results you want. What? Oh my God. The more invested you are in the outcome, the less likely you’re going to see the results you want.

Now, that sounds super crazy because what we’re taught is you’ve got to get in there and you’ve got to close that woman. You’ve got to close that man. You’ve got to get that money. The more you want it, what happens? Remember number one? Energy. Energy speaks louder than words. They’re going to feel. They’re going to feel that desperation. They’re going to feel, “Oh, man. She really wants this to happen,” and they’re going to pull back. They might not even be conscious of it, but they’re going to pull back.

When you release the outcome, “Hey, whatever happens happens,” because I’m rooted in abundance and if this works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t . . . I can hold space for “I really like this person. I would love for them to donate. And also if it’s not the right fit, we’re all going to be okay.” Not we’re all going to be okay. We’re already okay. It’s okay.

So when we release the outcome, magic happens. If I’m like, “I need to get $5,000 from this,” or, “I need to get my board and raise $100,000,” I get that we have plans and we have purposes, but in getting that and when pushing for that, then you’re going to get pushback. And also, you could be missing out on other opportunities that you hadn’t even thought about because you were so into getting this one outcome.

And so what happens is when you release the outcome, people get to do what? They get to buy. And when they get to buy, they get to choose. When they get to choose, they’re more likely to buy what you’re selling because they get to choose it.

It’s hard. I don’t want to say it’s hard. I’m going to say it may feel new to you to approach things this way, and it’s very powerful because you’re allowing someone to make a decision that’s best for them. You’re helping them make the best decision that they can for them. And whatever that decision is, that’s going to benefit you in the long run because you helped them make a decision that was right for them.

This is about coming in true service to that donor, to that board member, to a coworker, to whoever it is, but when I come in that spirit, I call it . . . it’s not calling them out, but calling them in. I’m not like, “Why are you not raising money for me?” It’s like, “How can I support you? What can I do? What’s going on?”

So one of the women in my program, she’s learning to release the outcome. And she’s like, “I’m having better conversations with donors. They feel more rich, I’m raising more money.” She had somebody give money from another state and she’s like, “Whoa, why is this person from California giving me money?”

She wound up figuring out that it was in honor of their mom. She looked up the obituary, connected with the guy, said, “Your mom sounds like a really amazing person. Thank you so much for giving us gift in her honor. I wish I could have known her.” And he was like, “You’re now my favorite person,” and wound up flying in, going to visit their offices, big new donor. I said, “You were so brilliant because you released outcome.”

It wasn’t like, “I’ve got to talk to this guy because I want more from him.” It was, “I’m going to talk to this guy because I’m in service to him. I want to connect with him,” and whatever the outcome is going to be, the outcome is going to be.

In our world, we’re taught we’ve got to control how, how, how, and every single one of us knows we had big plans at the beginning of 2020 and they all blew up. Guess what? Most of us did just fine. We had to release the outcome and we had to be open to what was happening, like, “Wow. We don’t have to Rubik’s cube every single thing, and we can still do amazing.” And so that’s the power of it.

I don’t know where stuff is going to come from all the time. I know that if I try to force and enroll people and push people, they’re going to push back. And so when I release the outcome, there’s so much more magic in that.

I want to have time for questions. I just want to give you one thing. If you’re like, “Maryanne, you rock. This is awesome,” I’m very open to connecting with people. I love doing these calls. It’s just the light of everything. I love the universe just drops into my Zoom. You can go to We’ll talk about where you’re at, where you want to be, what the gap is, and I’ll give you some insights on how to fill it.

If I think you’re right for something I do, I’ll let you know. If not, that’s okay. And whatever it is, of course, I release outcome. I eat my own cooking, as I say. I release the outcome, but I’m happy to connect with you if you want to go deeper in some of the concepts and some of the issues that you’re facing and some of the concepts I’m presenting.

I have a course in influence where I take individuals from different organizations and put them together in a group and we work on these things, and it’s a really, really powerful and beautiful experience. They’re just leading better, getting better results, feeling more connected, getting people to do what they want them to do more easily. It totally works.

So if you’re interested, book a time with me. I go deep. I want people who want to show up, who want to show up and do the work and come in strong, who are willing to think about things and how they can do things better. Those are the people that I love. So if you think that could be you, I’d love to connect with you.

Steven, I’ll just turn it over to you for questions.

Steven: Cool. Well, dang, thanks. That was awesome, Maryanne. I told y’all it was going to be a pep talk. So thank you for doing this.

Maryanne: Wait. Hold on. I have pompoms.

Steven: Oh, we’ve got to the end without the pompoms. That was fun. Maryanne, we’ve known each other a while, but it finally dawned on me listening to you today why we get along, and that is my parents wanted a daughter, and they got me and then they immediately started to keep trying for a daughter until they got one. So I’m just this thing that didn’t matter. So I know what you feeling.

Ask questions, folks. We’ve probably got maybe five or six minutes for questions. So if you haven’t asked one . . . I know a lot of you have been talking in the chat. That’s always awesome to see.

Maryanne: There are some. “Can you give a quick example of switching from a sale to a donor mindset to getting them to buy?” And so I would say just thinking about . . . and you can do your preparation. You can do your research, do your homework, do all that, and also set that aside and be open and listen. Just trust that when they feel seen and heard, when they feel validated, when they feel valued, then whatever you have to offer, they’re going to be much more open to.

And it’s not really about what you do. It’s how you think and feel about it. If I can trust that when I come in service . . . when I’m in service to you, it’ll come back to me. All I have to do is be in service to the universe and it’ll come back to me. Instead of, “I’m going to get my needs met and then I’ll meet your needs,” it’s, “I’m going to get your needs met and I will come and get my needs met.” When I come in contribution, I always get my needs met.

“Any tips for scheduling, calling a meeting?” I have one. So there’s a little trick that you can use and it’s called . . . it’s using the word open.

So in my trainings, part of what I do is teach people tricks of communication. And if you ask people if they’re open . . . if I would ask any of you right now, “Are you open-minded?” most of you would raise your hand. “Yeah. I’m open-minded.” We want to see ourselves as open or open-minded. We don’t want to see ourselves as closed.

So if I say, “Would you be open to a conversation?” people will generally say yes, because if they say no, then they have to define themselves as closed. Elizabeth, I would try to use the word, “If you’d be open to a conversation, I love to have it with you.”

And the other thing you do is make sure you set up a pre-frame or expectations for the conversation and also follow them. If you’re trying to schedule a meeting with someone who you think might be a potential donor, say, “I’d just love to talk with you about our organization. This isn’t about making an ask. I just want to get to know you.” And then you don’t make an ask. Or, “I’d love to talk to you about your contribution and whatever you decide is okay.” Again, I’m always reminding them that they get to buy, that it’s their choice.

But using that word “open,” “are you open to,” “if you’d be open to a meeting,” people will generally say yes because if they say no, they define themselves as being closed, and we don’t want to see ourselves that way.

Steven: I love that. There were some people asking about closed donors, people that are super reserved. Any experience with . . .

Maryanne: That feel that they’re really introverted and don’t like to share?

Steven: Mm-hmm.

Maryanne: Well, in my experience, it’s been . . . it’s my experience that we tend to fill the gaps of silence. Most people want to speak, but they just need a little bit of time to figure out what they want to say. And what happens is . . .

So my daughter has autism and she doesn’t speak anymore, but when she did, we would call it Taylor Time. So you’d be like, “Oh, that’s such a beautiful dress. Where did you get it?” And before she could get an answer out, well, you weren’t answering that question fast enough for me. So I’m like, “Well, maybe she doesn’t want to answer that question. So what’s your favorite color?” And I was like, “Whoa. She’s still processing the first question.”

But we tend to not want gaps in conversation. So if I can just ask you a question and sit with a person that’s more reserved and just let them have a few moments. That silence can feel super awkward. But just bite your tongue, whatever, and just let them have a few seconds to formulate a thought. Then they’ll probably start opening up.

But what happens is we just . . . and then we just wind up doing all the talking because we don’t want the awkward silence.

Yes. “Comfortable and quiet.”

“Keep up the good work.”

“What about donors who love the organization?”

“Keep up the good work.”

“How would you ask the question about the meeting?”

Well, I would say, “What about the work do you like? What do you think we’re doing well?” or, “How do you think it’s going? Keep up the good work.” They’re pretty happy, so tell them what they’re happy about.

“I have a problem with a new board member who doesn’t believe I am putting her priorities first. She’s new and has missed a few critical meetings. She was working around me and not with me.” All right. Sarah, I would encourage you to just book a time with me. So she has a story that you’re not putting her priorities first. For me, it’s really about listening to . . .

So that’s another thing. I don’t have time to go into that, but yes, that difficult conversations guide when you go to may help you.

“More useful tips about language we should use.” That’s super useful. I’ll give you another thing.

So if somebody comes to you with a problem, like, “I just can’t . . .” Or the board is like, “We need a brochure. We decided we need a brochure and we’ll start to fundraise.” You can say, “This is really helpful language. So what makes you say that or what makes you ask that?” So many times we feel like we need to give a response. “I want this.” “Okay, I’ll do that.” It’s like we have to have “Here’s a question, here’s your answer.”

This is also helpful in parenting. “What makes you ask that or what makes you say that?” “Well, if I had it . . .” Or, “Tell me more about that.” Instead of just providing, “I’ll get you the brochure. How big do you want it to be? What do you want it to say?” it’s, “Tell me more about that.”

So use those “What makes you say that?” or “What makes you ask that?” Then you can get to like what’s really going on, because people tend to want superficial solutions to things that may be going a bit deeper. So that’s another trick. I have a ton of them, but that’s one that can be really helpful.

So my sister taught me this. Many years ago my nephew was like 8 and he’s like, “I want to go on a date.” Most parents are like, “You’re 8 years old. You’re not going on a date.” She goes, “So tell me more about what a date looks like.” He goes, “Well, we go to a restaurant and my friend and I sit at one table and you guys sit at another.” My sister goes, “We could do that.” But we just tend to react instead of, “Okay, what are they really saying?” and just keep probing for more information.

So there we go. Top of the hour.

Steven: Dang, it’s like we planned it. That was great, Maryanne. Thank you. This was really fun. I really appreciate you taking your time. I know you’re super busy and you’ve got your classes and your coaching groups and all that.

Maryanne: I appreciate you. This is amazing and I’m so glad people came to learn about this stuff. I’m not seeing a lot of people are really helping people communicate more effectively internally and really moving through some blocks and barriers. I just love doing it. So thank you.

Steven: Yeah, this was a fun one.

Maryanne: All the love in the chat.

Steven: Thanks to all of you for hanging out. I know you’re probably super busy, giving up an hour, maybe giving up your lunch hour. I really appreciate it.

Like we said, we’re going to send the recording and the slides. Just look out for that later today from me. I’ll get that to you. I promise.

We’ve got some great webinars coming up. I’m going to highlight one in . . . I guess it’s two weeks, maybe three weeks, I guess. Also happens to be my birthday, so it stood out to me. Oh, yeah. So if anyone remembers that in three weeks, I’ll hold it against the rest of you. No. This is going to be a fun one, junior boards. This is a topic I see a lot of people asking about.

Maryanne: Yeah. I saw that. Moving away from the kid’s table.

Steven: The kid’s table. So there will be some opinions on this thrown around and I’d love for you to come and listen. Sarah Willey, a good friend of ours, and Corinne Austin, they’re going to come in and talk about it. They’re millennials like me. I’ve been on a junior board. I may talk little bit about that.

Maryanne: Sarah is awesome. Yeah, that’ll be great.

Steven: Oh, yeah. Another St. Louis, right? It’s like we planned it. So check that one out. I think that one will be fun. It’s a topic we’ve never covered before, but we got lots of other sessions on our webinar page. We’d love to see you again some other Thursday, but we’ll call it a day there.

Maryanne: All right. Sue said, “She was wonderful. Can she return?”

Steven: Of course. We will have Maryanne back. It wouldn’t be the webinar series without Maryanne. Oh, yeah. That’ll happen.

Maryanne: Thank you.

Steven: Well, have a good rest of your Thursday. Stay safe. Stay healthy out there. Watch out for the cicadas if you’re in that . . . I’m right in the middle of the worst cicada zone and it’s starting. So hopefully, it won’t get too loud for you. But hopefully we’ll see you again on another webinar. So take care, have a good weekend, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.