As a fundraiser, part of your job is to advocate for your organization. You want to share stories and information about your nonprofit’s work and mission. But is there such a thing as too much sharing? Turns out – as with many things in life – moderation is better than excess.
Stop Talking (So Much) About Your Organization
I can tell you that in the early days of my fundraising career, I didn’t fully understand this concept. I planned and practiced talking points about my organization but failed to plan and practice how to ask questions of donors to learn what interested them.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I know that one of the most important skills to have as a fundraiser is the ability to listen. Your donor will tell you everything you need to know about their motivations, what inspires them about philanthropy, and if there is a fit between their interests and your nonprofit’s work—if you only ask the right questions and listen to their answers!
Being quiet to listen is actually harder than it sounds, especially for us “outgoing” types. Rather than focusing on what to say that will “convince” a donor that your organization warrants their support, the key is to explore if your nonprofit’s work fits with your donor’s inspirations. Is does? Then, which program is the best fit?
Ask Questions to Engage Your Donor
People described as “good conversationalists” are often people who talk less and listen more. If you’ve ever been in conversation with someone who just WON’T STOP TALKING (and who hasn’t been in that conversation?) you know that this is just plain boring, annoying even. Don’t want to be THAT person.
I’ve written before about open-ended questions and their effectiveness in engaging your donor in a conversation. Next time you’re meeting with a donor, try asking, “How did you first get involved with our organization?” or another of the sample questions outlined here. If you are truly interested in the answers to these questions, you’ll learn a lot about how to connect your donors to your mission.
In the end this is a win-win! Your donor will feel great about supporting work that they care about and you’ll be serving your organization’s mission by identifying the financial support necessary to carry out your mission.
The old saying credited to Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak,” are words to live by when you’re visiting with your donors!
What are your thoughts on speaking vs. listening in a donor meeting? Please share in the Comments box below.
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