For a party leader who did not win a General Election Jeremy Corbyn MP still made some remarkable gains for the Labour party and its supporters. Indeed, his achievement against substantial opposition includes some useful lessons for fundraisers.
1. It’s your job to speak out against injustice
Jeremy Corbyn has stood against social injustice by refusing to give in to a more centrist approach. Every charity was set up to support or advocate for those left behind by the mainstream. If we don’t speak out and tell our donors about the injustices those we help face, we are neglecting our duty as fundraisers.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the problem. Better yet, always start with the problem. The problem is always more obvious to you than it is to your donors.
2. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face communication
In contrast to Theresa May, one thing Corbyn has not been accused of is hiding from his supporters.
As a fundraiser who works in an office, I know how easy it can be to instinctively contact supporters via email. Yet recent research has found that face-to-face communication is up to 34 times more effective than making a request via email. With around 55 % of communication being non-verbal, by relegating the important communications to email you risk missing out on almost half the conversation!
Corbyn has previously stated some unpopular views, such as abolishing the monarchy and scrapping Trident. Crucially though, during the election Jeremy listened to his supporters and adjusted his policies to match. As a fundraiser, listening should be just as important as persuading someone to donate.
Do not assume you know what your supporter wants – most fundraising problems I have seen have happened because of wrong assumptions. Ask and then listen. Be receptive to donor need. Be flexible. Always ask for feedback.
4. People give to (or vote for) people
The word Corbyn tweeted the most during his campaign was ‘people’ (May’s was Brexit). Corbyn shifted the vote by showing himself to be genuine, relaxed and human. Personality was key to Corbyn’s growing popularity. Authenticity and likeability are also key traits of being a successful fundraiser. We are more influenced by people we like and perceive as being like us. Whilst this is common sense it should not be underestimated by fundraisers. Be the best version of yourself with your donors. Always smile and be warm. Find common ground.
5. Never give up
Improving the Labour Party standing in the General Election didn’t look possible a month ago. Internally Corbyn faced leadership challenges and critics. Externally Corbyn was consistently attacked by the press and public opinion polls were low.
Unfortunately this environment is one recognisable for many fundraisers. Internally fundraisers can struggle to garner support from other teams within their organisation who may see fundraising as a “necessary evil”. Externally we can struggle to cut through the noise of the right wing press. Like Corbyn we must not give up.
Talk to other fundraisers and create communities. Share the positives and your successes. Be proud that every day you are taking steps to create a positive impact in the world!
Jeremy Corbyn is awesome, you are awesome!
Main image: Jeremy Corbyn MP, from uklabour on Instagram.com
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