Gamestorming is a great book for those of you trying to break the mold and transform the way you raise money and steward donors. Given the economic climate and the need to engage donors in new ways everyday, this book couldn’t come at a better time. Here are the top 3 you and your entire team can learn from Gamestorming.
1. Your meetings suck (but it’s not your fault)
Yes, your meetings suck. Especially your “brainstorming sessions”. This isn’t your fault, really, because we’ve all been doing it wrong for decades. The traditional brainstorming session gathers a bunch of people into a room and asks them for their thoughts and opinions on “the future of the organization”. At best, these sessions are a waste of time. At worst, they disempower your entire workforce for one main reason: you don’t follow through with any of the recommendations that were produced. Luckily, the authors of the book have some great advice for you.
Most people jump right for the middle part of the session, which is the “exploration” phase. However, if you want to be truly effective, you need to get great at opening and closing the session.
2. You need to be great at “opening” the session
Opening sets the stage for the entire session. You need to take care of some details, like painting a picture of what you want to achieve throughout the session, and inspiring them to take part with their full commitment (yes, it’s your fault if there’s no participation). The best openings pose the best questions to kick things off. These questions should be designed to get your team to break from tradition, and start thinking creatively. So, don’t ask “what can we do to raise fundraising revenues this year?”. Try asking “if our direct mail programs were cut from the budget tomorrow, what would we do instead?”.
3. You need to be great at “closing” the session
Once you’ve explored the options you’ve generated during the gamestorming session, you need to close the session well in order to produce any results. Ultimately, you shouldn’t leave the session with a flip chart full of ideas and no action plan for what you are going to do about it. Narrow down the options to things that you can actually do in the short-term, and then create action steps for each. Even more importantly, follow up with everybody after the session and give them an update on the progress you and your team are making.
Follow these simple steps, and you might just find that your team actually looks forward to these sessions. Of course, you should buy the book and get the hundreds of pages of details that we missed out on in this post, or for you lucky AFP members, you can go back to the AFP site and watch the summary in Action University.