donor-relationshipsDevelopment officers, we are notorious for missing the point—at least I can be.

It is so easy to fall into the pressure and excitement of fundraising and minimize our job to just raising money. Perhaps this is why I often run into discouragement and burnout in the field.

Focusing all your efforts on fundraising for “the next big thing” is like being trapped on a gerbil wheel. You were created for more than that.

Development officers are relationship builders. Imagine how well that fits into God’s plan. We all crave healthy relationships, don’t we?

In this age of instant connectivity through screens—emails, social media, texts, etc you would think loneliness would be non-existent. However, less and less true connection is taking place.

So many people are hurting. They have issues with kids, grandkids, parents, and friends. And they have no one to talk too.

We can pave the way for something better if we put away our keyboards from time to time and call our donors. We don’t read from a script on these calls, but really talk to them, find out who they are and how they are doing.

We can go back to the day when we sat face-to-face with another person and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a few stories. I promise you, if we start doing this with purpose and consistency, we will make memorable moments—and build momentum for our organizations.  

5 Tips to Building Strong Relationships

We have the opportunity to positively and profoundly affect people we build relationships with—an impact that will spill over to our ministries.  Here are five tips to building strong relationships:

  1. Listen.

    Seems easy, but it’s often the least developed of our relationship muscles. True listening shows we care, even if we don’t say all the right words. It also helps us understand how to minister to a person and their family. Then, part two of tip one—remember what we heard! And, please take careful notes. There is no shame in writing things down. We meet a lot of people and those notes are a tool to help us continue to care well for these people as our relationships grow.

  2. Pray.

    Our responsibility is to build healthy relationships and plant seeds and ask boldly. It is not our job to raise money. Let me say that one more time, “It is not our job to raise money.” That job belongs to the Lord. And, because the pressure is off, we don’t have to see people as dollar signs and we are free to serve rich and poor with the same love and care. God is faithful and able. So, instead of grasping at our donors to come through - let’s love them well, pray for them, ask them to donate and boldly trust God to do the work necessary in their hearts to move them.

  3. Give your Time.

    But there is never enough time!” I know, and that is precisely what makes giving people our time such a tremendous gift. Get out there and be with people. We need to block space for this on our calendars. When we give people our time, energy, and effort we work toward developing strong relationships. This is truly the greatest gift we can give to people.

  4. Build Trust.

    This is a touchy one. So many have been hurt by people, churches, or even other ministries that don’t live up to their promises. Friends, we need to follow through on what we promise. We need to make sure we are sending out timely reports on donor gifts. We need to follow up on family issues people are facing. And we need to let people know we are praying for them. Trust is hard to develop but worth the price. (This is one piece of our Major Gifts Coaching. Let’s talk about it >> )

  5. Truly Care.

    Maya Angelou made this quote, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." We should not argue, blame, give advice, or even try to fix the issue. We minister to people best by listening, being present and relating to someone with empathy.

I hope this list helps us get refocused on our relationships with purpose and energy. There are obviously many other hints and habits we can use to build strong relationships. But the important thing is to get started!  Remember, our primary responsibility in development is to build relationships every day. Healthy relationships are the relationships that will fund our ministries now and in the future.

Let’s talk more about building your major donor relationships. Just let me know you’d like to talk by scheduling your Free Coaching Call >>