What’s an Easter Egg?

easter eggs

by George Rattin , Associate Vice President

It is hard to publish a blog on this day without making a specific reference to a certain holiday taking place.  I promise there will be no bunny references, but I do want to talk about “Easter Eggs,” but in a way that may be unexpected.  I am not talking about the pastle hued, hard-boiled chicken products pictured above, but  am referencing a “hidden item placed in a movie, television show, or otherwise visual media for close watchers.”  According to the Urban Dictionary, this definition originates from the the 1975 movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” when the cast had an Easter Egg hunt but most of the eggs went unfound. They can be seen throughout the film in various locations (such as under Frank N. Furter’s throne).  What does this have to do with a fundrasing blog post, you may ask.  Well read on…

A donor meeting is like an Easter Egg hunt

As an Advancement Officer or Consultant, I have had many meetings with prospective or current donors.  As I reflect back on what made the best visits I have had the most successful, I have come to realize that they are the ones where I discovered the “Easter Eggs.”  Like the aforementioned definition states  “Easter Eggs” are hidden items, or in this case, messages, left for the close watcher (or listener).  For example, I was once on a visit and found myself sitting in a very cluttered business office of a major prospect who, though we had a long relationahip, was not showing any interest in the project about which we came to speak.  During the course of the conversation, he spoke about time with his family on several occasions and let slip that a major milestone birthday was approaching.  As active listeners we heard the “Easter Eggs” he left for us about the importance of this upcoming birthday and family.  Working with his daughter, we were able to host a private birthday party for him and his family at the organization’s headquarters.  This paved the way  for growth and deepening of his relationship with that agency.

Paying attention to the “Easter Eggs” donors leave for you is important because:

  1. It places you in the most active listening mode possible.  You spend time focusing on what the prospect is saying in obvious and subtle ways.
  2. The donor gives you the answers to your next steps.
  3. The donor has given you an opportunity to prove you are listening and that your organization truly wants to engage with her/him.

So on every donor or prospect visit, don’t half listen as you think about your next question or try to get your vistee to move on your plans, rather focus on what that person is saying and look for those hidden clues, subtle or brief points that the donor leaves, like “Easter Eggs” for you.  In this way the prospect or donor tells you what they need and you are able to authentically move them into a deeper relationship that fullfills their needs as well as your mission.

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