"The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people." — Woodrow Wilson
Major gift fundraising is more about listening than talking. You’ve seen it and know it's true. The fundraiser who talks too much tends to fail. At times it is hard to draw a line between expressing our passion and including people into our vision.
We tend to talk more, where we feel in control and comfortable. But we soon find that we’ve left everyone behind—including the major donor we want to understand our vision. We become so passionate about our cause that we forget fundraising is about relationships—and relationships are about listening.
Donors Want You to Listen
How do you feel when your friend talks too much and doesn’t listen to you? We have to imagine our major donors feel the same way. Remember, fundraising is about building relationships, not about asking for money.
If you can understand and believe in this concept, fundraising becomes fun. Furthermore, if we build relationships by listening and caring, we will have donors that stay with us for life.
Donors Want to Give When You Listen
We start this process by asking great questions. Think about all of the things you learned in school about being a good listener. Don’t interrupt. Don’t decide what you are going to say next before the person has finished talking. And, if you really want to know what someone is thinking or feeling, ask, ask, and ask again.
Questions lead a person to what they are really feeling. Only then will you know to respond. Only then will you understand how your ministry impacts this person’s life.
A naysayer may believe this is manipulation. (It is not.) This actually just shows that you care! Have faith that God is in control of your ministry and believe that He holds the finances and the future. Then you become free to meet and know the people that He sends to you.
God does not find particular joy in artificial relationships where we only want a person’s money. God desires for us to know one another and learn from each other. People love to talk about themselves, they love to be cared about—so give them what they desire.
Remember when you care, they will care. After all, you are the leader and people will follow your lead.
Wondering what questions to ask your major donors? Download Questions to Explore the Donor's Heart >>