Want to increase income? Help them throw rocks at their enemies…


Two of the great orators of the ancient world, were Aeschines and Demosthenes. It is said that after Aeschines had spoken, everyone said ‘what a great speech’. But when Demosthenes had spoken, the people said ‘let’s march!’

On the Major Gifts Mastery and Corporate Mastery Programmes a key skill I help people to practice is how to move from communication which might get nice feedback, to communication which help donors want to make large gifts and lucrative partnerships.

If you’re interested in improving in this area, one powerful concept that helps is the one that Blair Warren explains in his e-book One Sentence Persuasion.

He suggests that people who work hard but still only get mediocre results are approaching conversations (and pitches, proposals etc) with the wrong intention in the first place. That is, they are too often seeking to Correct and Convince others.

Perhaps you can think of a colleague or family member who spends a lot of conversation-time doing this? They say a lot, but deep down we remain unmoved, not least because we’d rather not be made to feel wrong.

What could we try instead?

Warren suggests that the most effective influencers instead aim to Intrigue and Validate the person they’re talking to. And how do you do this?

Well, here is Warren’s full sentence which he says captures five different ways that the best influencers manage to do this:

‘…People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.’

One thing I take from Warren’s sentence is that there is huge power in helping someone feel they are not alone. In that moment, the level of rapport increases. And when there is increased rapport, they have a far greater chance of looking at an idea in a new way, and saying ‘YES’.

I’ve found each one of Warren’s five tactics is worth exploring but in today’s blog, at the very least I recommend you give thought to the final one. He is saying that you are far more likely to positively influence someone if you ‘help them throw rocks at their enemies’.

One example of this in action is CRUK’s Race for Life slogan ‘Cancer, we’re coming to get you’. Or, on the same theme, the rock being flung feels even more potent when you hear the name of the fast-growing Canadian charity, Fuck Cancer. This organisation helps the young people who support it’s events to feel furious defiance for this vicious disease that has taken someone from them.

Clearly you don’t need to swear in your new campaign to take advantage of Blair Warren’s advice. But how could you make use of this idea to improve the messaging for your next event or appeal, or to increase your chances of influencing a partner or donor when you next meet them?

Two Powerful Questions:

  • Who does your donor see as their metaphorical enemy? What do they hate, especially in relation to the issue your charity deals with? Is it bullying? Or apathy? Or the senseless waste of human potential?
  • With this in mind, how could you spend more of your communication evoking these enemies (ie the problems they would like you to solve) and showing them that by supporting you they hurt these enemies?

For instance, Claire, the Head of Fundraising for a hospice, last year practiced these tactics on the Corporate Mastery Programme. Over a two month period, she then used them to persuade five different companies to agree to partnerships with her charity. How did she do it? One thing she did was help them throw rocks at their enemies.

Two key concepts we teach you on my programmes are How to Evoke the Problem (in an elegant, not over-the-top, way) and How to Convey Impact (i.e. how can we help the donor feel that your charity’s solution, which they could fund, works).

When, like Claire, you practice these tactics, you’ll find the donor / company feels validated. And then, like Demosthenes, you will see they’re far more inclined to say ‘YES’.

Would you like to increase corporate or major donor income?

To find out more about how the Mastery Programmes help you increase income, or to apply for a free coaching call click here: Major Gifts Mastery Programme 2017 or Corporate Mastery Programme.