How to fuel your speech when you’re asking for money

Exhorting listeners to reach into their wallets to make a contribution—Will that be paper or plastic?—demands that you reach into their hearts and minds and stir them to action.

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Short of sending soldiers to war, there is no speech more difficult to give than the one in which you ask for money.

A president can convene the Congress, and command the attention of the American people, to address a wounded nation; he can abandon partisanship for citizenship, so we may bear ourselves for this long trial by fire, of attacks by and against the enemy; he can outline the price we must pay, and the ultimate sacrifice many among us will make, to ensure the survival of freedom—at home and abroad.

A leader can make men march, but it takes a different kind of talent to induce those same men to offer a financial contribution on your behalf.

You cannot win these individuals with rhetoric alone.

You must, instead, do what several prefer not to say, and still more will never say: “I need your help. I need your financial support.”

No other time is a speaker so vulnerable—nowhere else is a person so exposed—because, without at least one benefactor or legions of donors, a candidate cannot endure, the hope cannot live and the dream will surely die.

That rule is not exclusive to politics, as it includes any and all institutions for which donations are the difference between failure and success.

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