Everyone wants to win and nobody wants to lose.
All of us operate on a need basis and we are constantly seeking to fulfill our perceived “needs”.
“I want” is another way of articulating this (but needing and wanting are not the same, of course).
It sounds shallow to assume that we, as people, are milling about, constantly trying to fill the hole, fill the hole. But…that is pretty much accurate.
Think about how you go about your day. Buzz! I need to take a shower. I need to put on my clothes. I need to hurry or I will be late. I need to find my keys. Baby crying. I need to sooth baby. Phone ringing. I need to answer phone. No. Baby. etc, etc. ad infinitum.
Basic theatre acting technique in America is based in the Stanislavski Technique, a now dead Russian theorist, who articulated a form, based on what good actors were doing at the time. He would ask these actors how they were doing what they were doing, to achieve a naturalistic appearance in their acting. What emerged was the “Stanislavski Technique”. There are tons and tons of versions of the “Stanislavski Technique”. Here is a mix of what I learned at SMU and Yale:
Now, this technique is no only applicable to theatre, but also fundraising and entrepreneurship in general. Here is the very simplified, basic idea:
Every character (think of your need and a potential donor’s needs) in a play (think of yourself, on the life stage) has a driving need. Some needs are bigger than others. There is a
Through Line of Action: Your great need…through the entire play
And there are Units of Action: Smaller needs in each scene (there can be countless smaller needs, each following the other).
Now, how does a character get what they need? Let´s say that our character is a toddler and that toddler wants Mommy to give him or her a cookie.
The toddler gets what he or she wants by making mommy FEEL something or they Send Action.
1. “Mommy, may I have a cookie” (said in a “make mommy feel loved way”).
“No”, says mommy.
That didn´t work. Need to change actions (or how to make her feel).
2. “Mommy, I want a cookie”, said while whining, making mommy feel a little unhinged.
Grrr…that did not work either.
3. “Mommy!!!!!!! I want a CoOkIE!!!!, said via a temper tantrum, making mommy feel like nails are scratching down a blackboard.
“No!!!!!”, says mommy. “Don´t you talk to me like that”.
Yikes! That is not working. Shift gears and quick!
4. “I am sorry”, says the toddler. “Please, mommy? May I PLEASE have a cookie”? This last method is said with humility and kindness, making mommy feel PROUD.
BINGO! The child gets the cookie.
That is, more or less the way we operate (grossly oversimplified, admittedly).
Now, knowing that everyone is trying to fill their own needs, if you can help them by filling their perceived needs (especially the big ones), they are more likely to want to help you.
If you can make a potential donor feel that they are accomplishing their life goal or contributing to something of great value, you are fulfilling a need of theirs. In addressing this need, you have a greater potential to receive funding.
This is human nature. The great religions of the world all mirror a universal truth: “Treat others as you want to be treated” “What goes around, comes around” “Karma”. This all points towards this phenomenon. Help others and they will want to help you…usually. Except for those who don’t and you probably do not want to work with them anyhow.
That is basic business. That is basic acting technique and that is how we are built.
If you have the opportunity to help other people with their needs, do it. Who cares if your intentions are self-motivated or not? You will be helping people, regardless. and in doing so, you commit an act of service. And in this process of helping them, you both win.
Jim Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway.