Harnessing Charisma

I was recently speaking with my colleague Tina Yoon about a tour of a health clinic in a poor neighborhood. The tour inspired her to start supporting the clinic. I asked her what made the tour so special, and she said, “The doctor who spoke during the tour was a pillar of the community. I felt honored that he would spend time with us.” This was many years ago, but it made a big impression on Tina.

A major DC philanthropist did a tour of a major multi-faceted social service agency, and promised $20,000 — $10,000 unrestricted, and $10,000 for whatever the man who ran the tour (director of a teen drop in center) wanted. ┬áThe executive director had a conniption fit, as you might imagine, about a staff person several rungs down the chain of command being empowered to direct contributions. ┬áNonetheless, something that man did captured the heart of the philanthropist, who wanted to empower him to do more. ┬áThat’s a good thing.

Who are the people in your organization who have the power to make donors feel special?