Sage fundraising advice from Nancy Bocskor, Author of “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors”

Sage fundraising advice from Nancy Bocskor, Author of “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors”

As I teach fundraising skills to both political campaigns and non-profit organizations, I remind students of the key component for success: If you don’t believe in the candidate or cause you’re representing, no one else will. Your personal passion is critical for your fundraising efforts. And your ability to make emotional connections with potential donors can move them from concern to passion to cash.

Top fundraiser and friend, Stephen Clouse, recently shared the following story about the renowned diamond dealer, Harry Winston’s, secret to success. In the story (i), Winston teaches us that there is no substitute for passion:

The famous New York diamond dealer Harry Winston heard about a wealthy Dutch merchant who was looking for a certain kind of diamond to add to his collection. Winston called the merchant, told him that he thought he had the perfect stone, and invited the collector to come to New York and examine it.

The collector flew to New York and Winston assigned a salesman to meet him and show the diamond. When the salesman presented the diamond to the merchant he described the expensive stone by pointing out all its fine technical features. The merchant listened and praised the stone but turned away and said, “It’s a wonderful stone but not exactly what I wanted.”

Winston, who had been watching the presentation from a distance stopped the merchant and asked, “Do you mind if I show you that diamond once again?” The merchant agreed and Winston presented the same stone. But instead of talking about the technical features of the stone, Winston spoke spontaneously about his own genuine admiration of the diamond and what a rare thing of beauty it was. Abruptly, the customer changed his mind and bought the diamond.

While he was waiting for the diamond to be packaged and brought to him, the merchant turned to Winston and asked, “Why did I but it from you when I had no difficulty saying no to your salesman?”

Winston replied, “The salesman is one of the best men in the business and he knows more about diamonds than I do. I pay him a good salary for what he knows. But I would gladly pay him twice as much if I could put into him something that I have and he lacks. You see, he knows diamonds, but I love them.”

Much of successful fundraising revolves around not just knowing your candidate or cause, but loving what you’re doing. Build your case of support. Make an emotional connection – because we can all follow Harry Winston’s advice: decisions are based from the heart not the head.

Want to learn more about how to be a successful fundraiser? You can buy Nancy’s book, “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors” at the special rate of just $30 (retails for $50.) Even better: Nancy donates 10% of sales to Voices of Conservative Women! To Learn More about Nancy, Click Here.

To Purchase Nancy’s Book at our special discount, email

(i) Swindoll, Charles R. The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories. Nashville: Word Pub., 1998.

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