Worth Considering: Just between you and me: why we interview

Worth ConsideringDo you remember those fateful words “just between you and me…” It was a while ago. A nationally known reporter, on a taped interview for television, spoke those words in a hushed tone to her victim, I mean “subject.” The object was to get the person to open up, but of course it was a pretty silly thing to say when you saw it on camera – just between you and me – and a million viewers!

So why do we do interviews?

Your nonprofit is certainly not NBC or Fox News, looking for a scoop. If that’s the case, then let’s look at some of the reasons for you to do an interview:

  • Entertain the reader
  • Motivate volunteers and donors
  • Distribute information about your programs

These are all good, but in fundraising the most important reason to do an interview is to cultivate the donor being interviewed.

The sad fact is that with the pace of today’s life, the competition between print and screen, and that people simply are not interested in much that does not impact their lives directly (sorry to sound cynical, but studies are showing that this is increasingly true), if you print a piece on how Mr. or Mrs. Moneybucks made their gift, not a lot of people are going to read it.

Besides, everyone loves to talk about themselves. I confess that I do, and if you’re honest, I’m sure that you do, too. It’s natural, and there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s part of the reason that interviews are such a powerful tool. Your job? Listen carefully and tell their story so they can feel good about their great deed and consider doing more of the same in the very near future.

So it turns out that the value is not in the result – the printed story – but in the process – the act of doing the interview.

But of course, I’m biased. As someone who has been in fundraising for 25 years, I know how to interview as cultivation, not journalism (sorry, no donor exposé from me.) But whether you have me do your interviews and stories, or whether you handle it in-house, the result should be something that your DONOR is pleased to see, because after you, your donor may be the only person reading it!

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