Philanthropy 101: Listen Your Way into a Gift
By Dave Kelner, Major Gift Officer
When talking to prospective donors, it’s easy to get carried away with all the wonderful reasons why they should support RMEF’s mission to protect elk, other wildlife and their habitat. But it’s also important to listen. Many people are much more apt to hear your side of the story if you’ve convinced them that you have listened to and appreciate their point of view. What people want most of all is to be heard.
As fundraisers, our task is to guide the conversation, not dominate it. A good rule of thumb is to listen 75 percent of the time and only talk for 25 percent. Place the spotlight on the prospective donor and give them center stage. Give them the opportunity to lead the conversation.
Ask good questions and really listen to their responses. Learn as much as you can about their passions, goals and desires, what they are looking to invest in and what their concerns are.
Once you are both on the same wavelength, you will have a much better idea of what size gift to ask for and when to ask for it. Most importantly, you will have learned how to motivate them to make that gift.