My Name is Nikki, and I Am Funky (GUEST POST)

Cool means being able to hang with yourself

For a new year, here’s a new post from guest blogger: my fundraising friend Nikki Bell. She’s a great speaker, great writer, and a superstar fundraiser. One of the best community fundraisers out there, she’s taught me loads about how to use social media to lavish volunteers and companies with love. Definitely worth a follow…especially if you like Bruce Springsteen and can understand Geordie.

Prince was amazing, wasn’t he? I miss him. A purple bolt of confidence, nailing the splits and belting out lyrics like,  ‘my name is Prince, and I am funky. My name is Prince, the one and only’ in a way that left no doubt that this man had confidence in himself. We can learn a lot from him as fundraisers, work appropriate stuff of course.

January is associated with new beginnings. A chance to pledge things you’re going to change about yourself to make sure you have the best 2018 you can imagine. But what about the importance of being yourself and having that self-confidence that you already are an amazing fundraiser?

In the early days of my fundraising career I found myself emulating my peers who I looked up to as talented fundraisers. Not just adopting what they were doing, but how they did it too; mannerisms, ways of presenting and how they presented themselves. In a profession that loves to share through blogs, vlogs, tutorials, conferences (you get the idea), it can be easy to get distracted from your own talents. But I wasn’t getting their results.

You see, making a connection with a supporter is vital for them to trust you and give to your charity long-term. If they’re trying to engage with someone who isn’t being themselves, and they will pick up on it, they’ll be cautious to allow that all important ‘spark’ that leads to a beautiful relationship. If you’re preoccupied in a corporate pitch about presenting in a similar way to a public speaker you admire, you’re not focussing on sharing why your charity exists and why their support will help change and save people’s lives.

Things had to change for me. I had to believe in my own talent as a fundraiser to make connections with the people that mattered most; our supporters. Like Prince I had to reinvent myself, but without that confusing unpronounceable symbol name he had going on for a while.

Over the past few years I’ve made an effort to have more confidence in being myself and have had the best years of my fundraising career; won partnerships, long-lasting relationships and progression opportunities. I continue to seek advice from those that I respect as fundraisers and I’ll always learn as much as I can about how to be a brilliant fundraiser (you will never learn everything), but my advice to you would be to pull it off the best way you can; your way.

In the early days I didn’t win a corporate pitch I had such high hopes for. I’d done everything you were supposed to, what I’d seen other amazing corporate fundraisers do, but I lost out. I reconnected with the company early 2017 and had the same professional and important conversations as before, but I was much more confident in approaching it in my own way. We hit it off quicker, I found out a lot of important details that would help with my pitch and got a huge ‘yes’ from the voting committee when the moment came. After the pitch one committee member told me, “It’s been so nice working with someone who has made it fun for us”, and I knew then where I had gone wrong before all those years before. I was preoccupied with having a professional, business-like approach to corporates I’d left out my personality. And people give to people.

Make confidence in being yourself one of your top new year’s resolutions and create habits to remind yourself that you’ve got this. Whether it’s reflecting on a recent win and reconnecting with those involved, sharing with colleagues how you achieved it or learning something new to boost your skills, it goes a long way to helping you believe in yourself and will give you the confidence to do it again. And when you have confidence in yourself, so do the people around you.

I keep a ‘success’ folder on Outlook. Every time I get positive feedback or share a success at work, I file it away and look through it regularly for a boost. Why not start one of your own right now?

Prince called Tim Burton in the 80s to say he’d be the perfect Batman for his 1989 film. I often think of this in moments of self-doubt and remind myself that much like The Purple One I can do anything, if I have the confidence in myself that I can.

Happy New Year.

If you’d like to see more fundraising lessons from some of music’s greatest talents (and an abundance of delightful GIFs) follow me on Twitter, @CharityNikki.

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