Q: I work at a private classical Christian school in the Kansas City area. Our board has agreed to use the Benevon Model, but we are having a difficult time coming up with the Emotional Hook. While we do give away a lot of money for financial aid, the bulk of our students live in an area that is considered affluent. Therefore, even though our school needs financial support (tuition does not cover the budget and unexpected expenses) we have not been able to come up with a story that motivates people to give. Do you have any suggestions? Our headmaster is now wanting to add traditional types of fundraising to supplement the Benevon Model and I would like to avoid that at all costs.
Jane in Missouri
A: The Emotional Hook is a key ingredient of the Point of Entry Event and the Ask Event. While not every guest will choose to become more involved with your organization, you must connect guests to your mission deeply enough that the folks who do believe in your work feel called to get involved after attending the event. We encourage each team member we work with to start by looking at their own passion for the work they do. After all, there are hundreds of other causes that they could be supporting—why work at this nonprofit or serve on this particular board? Each speaker at your Point of Entry—from your Visionary Leader, to your tour guide, to your storytellers—should briefly say why they do this work. If they are sharing from the heart, that will be moving to the attendees.
We also recommend that you vary the perspectives of your storytellers throughout the Point of Entry. Since you should be having three stops, perhaps one story is told by a parent, one by a teacher, and the last by a student or alumni of the school. Be sure you have coached them to share the deeper emotional connection in each story, not to just keep it surface-level. Each storyteller should be scripted and rehearsed and should share their story consistently from one Point of Entry to the next.
At each of your tour stops, you will also highlight a myth, a myth-busting fact, and a need. For example, let's look at one tour stop where you share the impact of your school on one student who was able to enroll due to tuition assistance being available. The myth might be that a classical Christian school is only for affluent families. The myth-busting fact could be that while you do serve families who pay full tuition, 40% of the students at your school receive tuition assistance that makes it possible to be there. Then the need that comes after the story, for example a story about a student on partial scholarship who goes on to great achievements, could be that for every student you can award tuition assistance to, there are other families in need. Perhaps they are families who want this type of education for their child but feel they cannot afford it, perhaps it's a family choosing which of their two children they need to send to your school most. In order to reach these families in need, you would like to provide an additional 25% in tuition assistance each year.
The final testimonial is another key place for the emotion to come through in your Point of Entry Event. This should be delivered first-hand by a parent, student, or even a teacher who has been impacted by your school. For this story and the others, keep in mind that the person may have been "fine" when they came to you, but how did they get where they are now? How did you take that student from good to great? What will these students be doing when they leave your school and how will you have prepared them to be the future business leaders, parents, elected officials, etc. in your community?