Our Work

Lessons from Steve Jobs

I received an email earlier this morning from a colleague that included a list of inspiring “take aways” from the philosophy and wisdom of Steve Jobs, the late, great American inventor and entrepreneur.

Since I was smack in the middle of writing an appeal for a client when the email popped up in my inbox, there were two lessons, in particular, that struck me…

1. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the
experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers (or donors)?

2. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he
entertained, all in one presentation.

The e-mail’s content gave me pause for reflection and a “what if” moment. Rather than a leader at the helm of Apple and the technological industry, what if Steve Jobs had been a fundraiser instead?  What different approaches might he have taken to reverse the current declines in donor acquisition and donor giving in our industry?

And, upon further contemplation, what if Mr. Jobs were actually sitting at my computer this morning, how differently would he go about crafting this particular client’s fundraising letter? What technique or strategy would this master storyteller employ to more readily engage the donor and motivate a response?

While I don’t presume to have the exact answers to these questions, there is one thing I do know for
certain: Steve Jobs certainly wouldn’t accept the same old “we’ve always done it this way” approach to the work we fundraisers do. Instead, he would turn everything upside down, sideways – or toss it out entirely – until arriving at a completely new, fresh, innovative perspective or solution.

We can all learn something from this creative and visionary pioneer… even those of us who think we’re doing a pretty darn good job as it is. Steve Jobs’ counsel? Dream bigger. I think that’s the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.


Katapult MarketingLessons from Steve Jobs