Two Ears: One Mouth

| by Shannon Williams

We all know we have two ears and one mouth. The lesson: listen twice as much as you talk. For fundraisers, this may actually be the golden rule.

When we truly listen to donors and prospects, they give us the clues we need to understand what motivates and inspires them to give. They intentionally and sometimes unintentionally help us customize our stewardship and cultivation plans, design our proposals, and understand the best time to ask.

It is simple—a no brainer even, but listening is an amazingly difficult skill for many of us in the fundraising world.  We are talkers by our nature, listening is not always our strongest skill.

Penelope Burk, President of Cygnus Applied Research, Inc. is the guru of listening to what donors want. She has conducted unprecedented research to understand what makes donors want to give and continue to give. One of my favorite quotes from Penelope follows  . . .

 “In the boardroom, leadership volunteers are discussing a new idea for a fundraising event. The question on the table is, ‘Will our donors come?’ Down the hall, the CEO and Development Director are debating the latest forecast. Their question is, ‘Will our donors give at this level?’ Downstairs, the Communications officer is poring over the fourth draft of her newsletter and wondering, ‘Will our donors read this?’ Somewhere out there are the donors with the answers to those questions, just waiting to be asked.”

If you are not asking your donors for their opinions and LISTENING to their responses, you are missing out. Now is the perfect time to connect with your donors or prospects. Summer is often considered a down time—if there really is such a thing! Use this solicitation-free space to work on your listening skills. What you learn may be the key to your fundraising success this fall.

We want to listen to you too—join our conversation!


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