You’ve finally gotten a meeting with that important donor. You’ve done your research. You’re armed with everything you need to convince them that your cause is worthy of their philanthropy. What could possibly go wrong?
How about this: You make the meeting all about you!
If there’s one thing that development professionals need to remember (but often forget) it’s to let the donor lead the meeting! Donors are people too. They want to be heard, appreciated, valued, and most of all understood. That’s pretty hard to accomplish if you spend all your valuable time with them talking too much.
Have you ever been in a meeting, or even a lunch with a friend, and all they do is drone on and on about themselves? They have a way of turning every subject into a story about themselves. It’s tempting to do that same thing during meetings with donors. Let’s face it, donor meetings can be awkward – especially those first few meetings.
The good news is that these awkward, first-time meetings with donors are possibly the best times to really understand what they are interested in, what they value, and (most importantly) why your organization or cause might be worthy of their philanthropy.
The bad news is you can’t get any of this valuable information if you’re doing most of the talking, or even spending your time thinking about the next thing you’re going to say, instead of REALLY listening. Experts in the field suggest that during a donor meeting you should do only about 25 percent of the talking. In fact, one piece of advice that I see over and over again is that to be successful as a major gift fundraiser you need to talk less and listen more!
Keep this in mind when walking into your next donor meeting. If you put the donor first and let them lead the conversation, you’ll be amazed at what you discover.
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