This week, we start talking about fundraising and how you maximize your effectiveness being a fundraiser. I’ve been fortunate enough to know many great people who are highly effective at fundraising. What’s really interesting is when you first meet them, you find they have very little in common. They don’t all have the gift of gab. They don’t all wow you with their personalities. Incredibly, some never even ask for your help, but by the end of your time with them, you feel like writing them a check for their cause and you want to introduce them to your friends. Today, I plan to share the three keys of the successful fundraiser’s success and why I believe you can master these skills to help raise money for your organization or cause.
Key 1 – Earn their trust. The first key to a fundraiser’s success is her ability to earn the trust of the people she talks to. These fundraisers have an innate skill in building trust with others. They make you feel comfortable when talking with them. They build trust quickly by asking questions about who you are and what your hopes and dreams are. They don’t jump to any quick conclusions. They spend time listening to you share what you’re feeling and how you got to this point. They ask provocative questions and they spend time listening to your responses, they actually hear what you say.
Key 2 – Focus on them. The second key is focus. It’s said of President Clinton that he makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. With a room full of people, his attention is on you, even when all the attention in the room may be on him. He is a large man yet his body language is not meant to intimidate. He provides you a comfortable space in which to move around him. He is charming in his listening. He understands what few people in his role as President have, he has empathy for others. His keen focus and his southern manners are a powerful combination when building a bridge to others, even for those on the opposite side of the aisle.
Key 3 – Take notes on what you learned. The third key to trust is memory. Successful fundraisers understand that most of the largest contributions come after a series of discussions, not after the first meeting. However, many tech entrepreneurs are very comfortable giving a large check after the first meeting because they pride themselves on their ability to see great opportunities. The problem is that we meet so many people we forget what we’ve learned from each individual meeting. I’ve discovered that good fundraisers and leaders keep great notes. Some use note cards and others use technology, but most make sure they leave little to chance when it comes to remembering facts and ideas about key people. For years, I made it a practice to add something to a person’s file every time we talked. It’s usually something personal about their family or their background. It is information that I can share when following up with them. The fact that I remember details about so many people has more to do with my developing the skill at an early age and continuing to develop it as a game I use when I reconnect with others. As I get older I’ve discovered that I’m better served with a single personal fact than with all the business facts of their background. I also find that the best written notes are more powerful than the best intentions of remembering.
Now that we’ve talked about the three key elements in of a successful fundraiser, we can begin next week providing you with tools that will help you with your fundraising.