A well-known commercial figure asks the question “Can you hear me now?” in reference to a phone connection. However, the same question might be asked by our donors, can you hear me . . .
Now that you are not looking at your cell phone?
Now that you have closed all of the windows on your computer?
Now that I have your full attention?
This Fast Company article, 6 Ways to Become a Better Listener:
offers a startling statistic:
“Humans have an average eight-second attention span.”
Stop and count to eight – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight – talk about fast!
Of the five tips offered for improving one’s listening skills number one stuck with me:
“Listen to learn, not to be polite.”
How often do I/we listen because we’ve been told as fundraisers that it’s what we’re supposed to do? How often do we listen because the donor might be a more senior person and we were taught to respect our elders?
Listening to learn:
1. Enables us to discover a donor’s passions, hopes, dreams, and even concerns.
2. Is how we can determine whether there is an intersection between a donor’s interests and the funding needs of our nonprofit, which . . .
3. Enables us to ask for the right gift at the right time.
4. Can lead to asking for the right amount if we hear what a donor has to say about her or his position, plans to retire (or not), thoughts about supporting children (or not) via their estate, and so on.
Do you have an example to share of “listening to learn” that led to a gift or a deeper relationship with a donor? If so I invite you to share so that we can all benefit from your experience.
Sophie W. Penney, PhD is President of i5 Fundraising.