Just the other day, I was listening to my son practice his cello. He’s 9 years old and this is his first go-round with playing an instrument. Learning to play an instrument and practicing the basics at the start can be challenging (both for the new musician and also to the ears of those around him!).
As I sat and listened to my son practice, I thought about how playing an instrument is also like our work with donors. Sounds like a stretch, right? But, if you think about it…it takes patience, persistence, diligence and a good ear for listening.
When we work with our donors, we, just as musicians, need to be patient. Musicians work hard to learn a new piece or how to work with other members of the orchestra to make the final result ready for show time. We, as fundraisers, need patience as well. It takes time to build and cultivate relationships. It often takes more members of our orchestra…our board members, volunteers and others to be involved in maintaining and enhancing relationships with our donors. We are the leader, or the conductor of this process, to ensure that these relationships continue to grow and flourish.
Musicians must also be persistent and diligent with their art…always working to perfect and fine-tune their skills to enhance their performance. In our work, we must continue to keep our donors well informed and in-tune with the happenings of our not for profits. We need to ensure that we do everything we can to keep then engaged in our missions.
Finally, just as musicians need to listen to the tone and the rhythm of the music they are creating, we need to keep our ears open when we engage with our donors. In talking to our donors, we need to do less of the talking and more of the listening so that we truly hear why they support our cause and what it is that moves them to make a gift to our not for profit.
I encourage you this week to think of yourself as the conductor of your orchestra. Who is sitting in your audience today? Who is not? And finally, with a little diligence, patience and persistence, who would you like to move from the back rows to the box seats… and what is your plan to move them forward?
by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions