Do most people sit quietly at your campaign meetings while just a couple of people give reports and talk? Then, at the end of the meeting, do people leave without having participated much or at all.
That’ll leave you feeling uneasy.
You’ll wonder (correctly) what they were thinking and what they were saying in the parking lot after the meeting.
You might have had the same experience at a major donor cultivation event.
You’ve invited some of your biggest donor prospects to a lovely home. Your ED and board chair and campaign chair each get up and talk. Everyone else chats party kind of chatter and then goes home.
A bit more comfortable, perhaps, but not exactly the lively conversation about the future of your organization you had been hoping for.
You might even notice that your board meetings don’t have the kind of active, engaged participation you would like. Some people never say anything. Others take over the meeting every time.
A Simple, Inexpensive Way to Get People Talking
I’ve found a simple, inexpensive, old-fashioned prop you can use to change the culture and outcomes of these meetings.
I’ve used 3×5 index cards for years and they still work. In fact, they work better now than ever because everyone is so used to high-tech bells and whistles that these little anachronistic tools feel friendly and personal.
How do you use them? There are many possibilities, but I’ll give you two.
1. Use index cards at your campaign meetings.
Try this at your next campaign meeting:
- Hand out an index cards, one to each person.
- Tell everyone you’d like to start the meeting with a little process that’ll give the group a chance to think about the case for supporting the campaign.
- Ask everyone to take a couple of minutes to write down on one side of the card the three things in the project they are most excited about and on the other things, their three biggest concerns.
- Go around the room, asking for one item from the positive side from each person. Write them down on a flip chart. Keep going around until no one has anything else to add.
- Then ask for the concerns in the same way.
- Finish up by asking the group to summarize the most important pros and concerns and discuss how to apply them to your campaign work.
2. Use index cards at a house party.
If you’ve invited people to come and talk about your strategic plan, make little card decks, putting one of your planning priorities on each card. You can paperclip them together.
When everyone is seated for the discussion of the plan, do the following:
- Provide some context about the planning process.
- Hand out your little card decks, one to each person.
- Ask them to take just a couple of minutes to put the cards in the order they believe is most important.
- Find out how each person prioritized the cards and use that as the basis for your discussion.
You can use this simple card sorting strategy to get people prioritizing anything that relates to your organization and the future.
Why Do Index Cards Work?
These little index card strategies work because everyone participates. First by themselves with their cards, and then in the larger group.
These little processes level the playing field so the noisy people don’t take over. Each person is given a chance in an easy and welcome way to make their views known.
Go out and buy yourself a pack of index cards.
Try using them at staff meetings, board meetings, campaign meetings and even house parties. They really are one of the best investments you can make.
And for more on making capital campaign meetings successful, check out these two posts:
- Make Your Capital Campaign Meetings Rock in 5 Steps
- How to Design Great Meetings for Your Capital Campaign
What have you tried at your meetings to get people talking? We’d love to hear your ideas — share them below in the comments.