Listen To Your Donors

“The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.”
– Bruce Lee

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
James 1:19

When relationship is the foundation of your fundraising, it is important you listen carefully to the potential donor. In the course of time, they will tell you what they like to give to, when they could most likely make the gift, and how much they are considering. Finding out this information all comes not from asking direct questions, but simply listening to them talk.

In one instance, I called on a donor to make a request for the auditorium. After hearing my presentation, he said, “That is really not my interest. But I am interested in giving you a gift for a residence hall.” Twelve months later, in the midst of a campaign for an auditorium, we dedicated a new residence hall.

In another instance, while still in the relationship phase, a donor told me about a major gift he wanted to give to another organization that refused to commit to using it in the way he intended. So he did not make the gift to them.

When he told me the amount, I knew immediately how much to ask for when the time came for an ask.

Time is also significant. Donors often have to rearrange assets and consider tax liabilities in order to make a major gift. Appreciated assets often are the source of a major gift.

If you listen to them, they will tell you how much to ask for, when they are ready to make a gift, and what they want their hard earned dollars to impact.

“You should never be too busy to listen because it’s the ultimate form of respect anyone can give a person. And donors deserve our respect.”

Jules Glanzer served as a pastor and church planter for 25 years, a seminary dean at George Fox University, and the college president at Tabor College. While at Tabor, God used his efforts to raise more than $53 million with no gift over $2 million. Jules serves as an adjunct professor, mentor, senior consultant with the Timothy Group, and recently authored Money. Money. Money. Actions for Effective Fundraising.

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