I just had an exercise in patience when JFK Airport grounded all flights due to weather. We sat on the tarmac for 3 hours only to then be told we had to return to the gate and de-plane because now the flight crew was over their allowed time.
Long story, short – we weren’t able to return home until the following morning.
As we were waiting to hear if our flight was going to go out or not, I practiced my breathing techniques. I chose the 4-7-8 technique where you breathe in while counting to four – hold the breath for 7 counts – then exhale through the mouth for 8 counts. I repeated this 4 times using the word patience as a mantra.
I immediately felt relief and, now that my mind was no longer focused on the situation of our flight being cancelled; I reflected on the importance of patience in fundraising.
Successful fundraising occurs from successful donor relationships. Developing a successful donor relationship takes time – and patience. It is rare that you will discover that secret ingredient that inspires the donor to make a gift, in the first meeting.
You must have patience and enjoy the process.
Think about your most meaningful personal relationships. Is it with a parent? A sibling? A friend? A spouse or significant other? Now think how much time it took to establish that relationship.
I’m guessing your most meaningful personal relationships did not happen overnight. Neither will your most meaningful donor relationships.
Be patient. Breathe. With time – everything becomes clearer. Even stormy skies.R
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Listening is the most important sense that a fundraiser can utilize but do you know how to listen?
To prevent yourself from falling into the trap that Stephen Covey describes, you must be present. Otherwise your mind is processing and thinking two steps ahead – thinking of what your response should be.
The rule of thumb is that the donor should be doing the majority of the talking – not the fundraiser. The fundraiser’s #1 job is – to listen. There will be outright clues and hidden clues in what the donor is telling you.
Here are the steps you can to make sure you’re listening with intent:
As the donor is answering your questions about what makes them passionate about your organization, sit comfortably and take several deep breaths. As you breathe in and out, focus solely on what the donor is saying. Don’t let your mind wander but use your breathe to provide you focus – to remain present.
No matter how difficult it may be – do not speak or respond to the donor unless they ask you a question, or they stop talking. Wait for them to finish. Let them talk and just listen.
As you are listening, listen to understand. When the donor stops speaking, ask them questions to further clarify what they just told you. Dig deeper.
Don’t respond just to respond. Express your understanding but remember this is not about you. It is all about the donor.
Listening is a skill that must be practiced and there are plenty of examples of people who don’t know how to listen. They interrupt you, are too quick to respond, and when they do respond, it’s not asking a question to clarify what you said, but something else only for the sake of responding.
Don’t be that person. Listen intently. That’s what makes the difference between a good fundraiser and a great fundraiser.
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!
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.
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. Youwant your donors to be there for the organization in good times and bad.