We are all so very guilty of appearing to listen to someone, but yet already forming a reply in our head..
You know, you are sitting with a donor and rather than listening, you are rehearsing what your response may be.
Are you missing some critical information when you don’t listen intently? Sure!
It is so critical to listen intently, without an already pre-conceived agenda in our mind.
You may miss key donor motivations in that pre-thinking. Here is an excellent case as an example.
I was once meeting with a donor who I thought may be interested in supporting a particular project – Rosary distribution. However, it was when I was meeting with that individual donor and asking deep, probing questions, that I learned that their interest was not in fact with what I thought it may be, but in fact with an overseas ministry in France. If I didn’t spend the time to ask questions, probe deeper, and listen, I may have missed the relevant cues that would direct me to share the ministry of importance to that donor. That donor later went on to make a significant gift to support this ministry in France. A gift towards Rosary distribution may have been certain, but probably would not be at the same gift level.
It is so critical to put aside personal and professional agendas and spend the time to listen to our donors and to understand their motivations for possibly making a gift.
I argue that time is the most important element when doing major gifts. One needs to take the time to listen and explore to know the donor better. Time and deep listening are the glue between the donor and the organization. Time and deep listening are what leads to long-term relationships.
We need to push our organizations to remove those expectations that keep us limited in the time we spend with our donors. Each donor is different, and we should not pen the relationship into key metrics. Rarely does a relationship fit into expectations and measurement. Relationships are organic and dynamic. And, most importantly relations are about deep probing, and intently listening.
Very rarely does a major gift fit into an official timeline.
It is all about the donor!