Have you heard that the secret to success lies in the very thing you’re avoiding? I’ve found this to be true and it applies to our personal lives as well as the development process.
Often our clients hesitate to pick up the phone and connect with their donors. “Oh, I’ll see them next month, or maybe I’ll just send an email instead. After all, they’re busy.” But that’s not creating true intimacy – and I don’t mean the type of intimacy that happens under the mistletoe. I mean intimacy of really talking with someone and making a connection.
So here are some thoughts that may help when you find yourself feeling so far out of your comfort zone that you reach for the safety of a computer mouse instead of reaching out in a personal way to really connect with your donors:
- You have 2 ears and one mouth use them accordingly –So many times, we listen with the purpose of determining what our response will be rather than truly hearing the person. This puts a lot of pressure on us. What will we talk about? What will I say? But the fact is that good conversationalists are actually good listeners, not good talkers. In fact, the 80/20 rule dictates that good communication is about spending a majority of your time listening and minority of your time talking.
- Ask “power” questions. These are open ended questions that are relevant for your organization. Some examples include, “How did you first get involved with…..” “What are your thoughts about how we are doing….” “Is there anything else we should know about ……” Good conversationalists ask relevant, thoughtful questions and then really listen to the responses.
- When you ask for money, you are not asking for yourself. Everyone can feel awkward asking for someone’s time or financial support. We don’t want to appear that we always have our hands out. But we need to remember that we are not asking for us. We are asking for others. We all raise money for important missions that help others who may be less fortunate. Keep their faces in mind when you ask. You are their advocate.
So I challenge you to start today. Make three connections this week that you otherwise might just avoid. All you really need to start with is “Happy Holidays, I was thinking of you.”
by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions