Did your mother ever tell you that you should listen before you speak? That you have two ears and one mouth for a reason?
I was reminded of this recently when I called a donor to thank her for a recent major gift. She had given to a particular campaign and wanted a progress report (hers had been one of the first gifts to get the project going.) I updated her then asked her about what made her want to support this particular initiative, As she talked, she became more animated and passionate about the cause. By the end of the conversation, she had voluntarily increased her gift by another 66%. I had called her with no intention of asking her for more money, but I may have mentioned that other donors were giving at a higher level. In a very lovely way, she solicited herself.
The age-old advice to listen can pay off in more ways than just in fundraising. Resource development guru Jerold Panas, in his usual succinct and pithy way, has said it best. I love his advice as delineated here:
An Idea from Jerold Panas in 41 Seconds
1. Is the ultimate mark of respect you can pay a person.
2. Puts the other person in the spotlight.
3. Is the heart and soul of engaging a person.
4. Makes you an outstanding conversationalist.
5. Allows the other person to gain ownership.
6. Demonstrates your thoughtfulness.
7. Is the basis for a true partnership.
8. Is a skill that can be learned.
9. Turns an objection into advocacy.
10. Provides giving clues.
11. Is the springboard to securing the gift.
12. Is the key to renewing the gift.
13. Helps you learn something new.
14. Can turn a negative into a positive reaction.
15. Enables you to develop a strategy.
16. Is the most important element in being empathetic.
17. Ensures your success.
Listen with your entire being. Listen with your eyes. Listen as if you are hard of hearing.