Say hello to your donors

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How did we get to the point where we don’t say hello to one another? I was out for a walk in our neighborhood when someone was walking towards me. We were on the same sidewalk and no one else was around. It was just the two of us. As we approached one another, I put a smile on my face and was getting ready to say “Hello”.

But this person – my neighbor (even though we didn’t know each other, we obviously live in the same neighborhood) – kept her head down and didn’t acknowledge me.  It made me very sad. We’ve become disconnected.

We are all one human race. We are one. We should acknowledge that we are on this earth together. Smile. Say hello.

It seems so simple but our world has forced us to walk with our heads down or looking at some type of electronic device. We aren’t acknowledging our connection as human beings.

Our donors want the same thing – to be acknowledged. We are definitely connected with our donors. We need to take the time to smile and say hello. Then you can have a meaningful conversation.

As for the stranger on the street, let the change begin with us. Go outside for a walk. Smile and say hello to each person you pass. They might just lift their head up and smile back. If so, you just became a change agent!

Meditate with Me

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The world has been mesmerized this past week with the rescue of the 12 Thai boys who were trapped in a cave with their soccer coach. Thankfully they all made it out alive and are now being cared for and re-united with their families. They were trapped in the cave for 2 weeks under extreme conditions.  It turns out that one method used in their survival was meditation.  As Eliza Barclay reports, the soccer coach spent 10 years in a Buddhist monastery and taught the boys, ages 11 to 16, to meditate as a coping mechanism.

Meditation has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety but also provide clarity when making difficult decisions. There are multiple ways to meditate and a Google search will provide 84,500,000 results that will provide you with plenty of information. But you don’t need to spend hours researching different methods or arranging the perfect meditation space – you can start right now.

Take a moment now to sit comfortably. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, gently close your eyes. Now with your eyes closed, inhale deeply and exhale deeply again. Repeat that at least five more times trying to only concentrate on the breath. If your mind wanders, you can count the breaths or repeat a word such as calm – peace – quiet – with each breath.  When you are ready, gently open your eyes and take a moment to feel the difference within. You should feel calmer and more relaxed. Now you are in a much better position to tackle whatever challenge lies ahead.

I find it very useful to meditate before an important meeting or solicitation. It provides a clear mind and a calm demeanor.  Try practicing the technique every day and increase the number of breaths you take before you open your eyes. Make a sign to post on your cubicle or door with the message, “Please do not disturb – I am meditating”.

Imagine if others follow your lead and take a few minutes in their crazy day to close their eyes and breath deeply. I am willing to bet your office environment will reflect a greater sense of calmness. You may even find your donor meetings have better results. Give it  a try! Namaste.

Vulnerability

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Are you the type of person that wears their heart on their sleeve? I am and I find it very difficult to hide my feelings when going through difficult times. If I’m with a donor and they ask “How are you?” – and I can’t honestly say that “I’m good” – then I won’t I share what’s going on in my life that is causing me distress. I don’t spend a lengthy time discussing it, but, in one sentence will share what the challenge is. For me, it’s brought me closer to my donors. I am speaking to them as a friend. If I’m asking them to share intimate details about their passions, family, and background, then I should be willing to share some of my personal details. And when I say personal details I mean outside of the office. If there are difficulties at work, I would never share that with a donor because they should always feel confident that the organization is strong.

We should always talk to our donors as if they are our friends. You want them to want to spend time with you – have a smile on their face when you call, instead of thinking “What is she going to ask me for now?” I’ve actually had donors call me and ask me to lunch! Just because they want to catch up on how my family is doing.

I’ve spoken about the importance of authenticity previously and it is especially important here. You are sharing your personal life with them because there is a genuine connection. You both care deeply about the organization and its mission. Friends are there for you in good times and bad. You want your donors to be there for the organization in good times and bad.

Power of Two Words

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Thank you. I have been waiting to hear these two words from someone who has only expressed discontent for a situation I was desperately trying to resolve. All the angst and frustration that I have allowed myself to experience dissipated with just two words – thank you. I finally felt some sense of appreciation and recognition for the efforts I have been putting forth and felt the power of words.

I began to think of the importance of thanking our donors. They want to know that they are appreciated. They are not just an ATM but are human beings who want to help solve a problem. They take time out of their lives to learn about our organizations and our missions and contemplate where they might best fit in. It is more than just writing a check and we need to express our gratitude and respect their efforts in deciding to make an investment with us. Say thank you but say it authentically. Express that you understand that they put thought and effort into making their gift. You recognize their efforts and they are appreciated. Thank you.

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Compassion

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I recently came across an article that describes compassion as a way to open our attention and make it more inclusive, transforming the way we view the world and ourselves.  But how do we bring that into our daily lives? I’ve been practicing mindfulness for many years and I emphasize practicing because it is a challenge to bring calmness to the chaos in the mind to feel present. When you experience that feeling of presence, you definitely see the world differently and with compassion. For me, it provides me the insight when I am faced with a challenge particularly when the challenge involves personal relationships. I am able to recognize how we all get caught up very easily in focusing on ourselves and us vs. them.  Compassion is understanding that we are all connected and it begins with kindness to ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves so that when we are faced with challenges, we don’t allow the negativity to consume us. Self-care allows transformation in many ways. My self-care regimen includes meditation, journaling, exercise, and a focus on gratitude. Even in the worst of times, there has to be one thing you can be grateful for. It might be a hug from someone you love or a cup of coffee because if you’re like me – you can’t function in the morning until that cup of coffee.

What does this all have to do with fundraising? We cannot fundraise unless we have compassion. Not only for the people we serve but our organization as a whole. Nonprofit work is difficult with lower salaries and long hours but we must be united in our mission and understand every individual plays a role in our success. Compassion starts internally and then will be expressed to our donors, which they see as passion. I have had many donors say how obvious my passion is. That gets them excited and they want to join in because they feel the connection. It’s the connection that you must focus on. It is not me – not you – but us. We are all one. When we treat our donors with compassion, we can transform the world together.

 

 

TGIF

How is it that Friday seems to come at the perfect time? You can feel the energy level depleting with every day and just when you think you can’t get through another day – it’s Friday. You made it! You already feel more relaxed just knowing that you can stay up a little later because you don’t have to jump out of bed to make a morning meeting. You know have 2 days to reenergize and recouperate so that you can do it all again. But when that next week begins, you know that Friday will arrive again just at the perfect time.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I am an experienced fundraiser with over 20 years in the nonprofit industry as a volunteer and professional. I am a CFRE and completed a Master in Nonprofit Administration. I also believe in being mindful and present at home and at work. We are all one and no one person is better than another. We just have different skill sets and the key is to embrace them in ourselves and others. Together we can do incredible things.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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