How not to build relationships
It is lunchtime and I have arrived to speak at an event for legacy fundraisers.
I am helping myself to a coffee.
A legacy fundraiser is next to me and says, “Where’s the water?” Please note no “Hi” or smile.
I reply, with a smile, “In front of you in the flask saying hot water”
He replied “No, I don’t want that water. Do you have water?”
I reply, “It’s just here, but I don’t work here” (cold water was less than an arm’s length away)
He took it and walked away just as I was going to ask him his name and to say I am Richard.
Was he ill? No, he sat down and stayed for three hours. He took a few notes and asked no questions.
Now, excuse me for asking, but I really do not care what mood he was in. What I do care about is: how does he respond to legacy prospects? I fully realise these are tough times for us all, but he was:
- Rude, presumptuous
- Uninterested in anyone else.
Three sins which should be banned from the lives of fundraisers.
No hello. No smile. Nothing.
Mr X assumed I was an organiser or waiter. I had a name label so it should have been clear I was one of those attending, not serving.
I judged him to be a…. well, I won’t put the words in writing.
My next question was: why the hell did he become a fundraiser?
My next question was: How much damage has he done?
My final question was: If he is communicating with a legacy prospect how quickly does he wrongly judge their potential?
Judgement and first impressions
How quickly do we judge people?
Research (from numerous sources) shows a similar result. It is between 1/10th and 1/30th of a second.
(I judged him very fast: get out of fundraising!)
We live in a world of communication overload. The usual is forgotten. The exceptional remembered and bad two-way communications often leave a scar for life.
(I wonder whether you have struggled to get this far in your reading)
These scars I hear about in focus groups (over 800 supporters I have met have taken legacies out of their Wills but they do not like to complain).
Good relationships – especially NOW in uncertain times – are crucial
For some reason I hate phrases like “donor care”. To me it is jargon. BTW I hate most job titles in fundraising for reasons I will discuss in a future blog.
A great fundraiser has natural in-built love, interest and inquisitiveness in other people.
We yearn to know more but without intruding on the lives of supporters.
We strive to understand what information they need to ensure donor happiness.
These qualities are something which have to be in the heart of every fundraiser.
The Training Gap
How many courses are there on Corporate and Trust/Foundation fundraising?
How many courses are there on Individual Giving?
How many courses are there on fundraising strategies?
Answer: bucket loads.
How many training sessions are there on how to listen to and understand prospects?
We have a major imbalance, because every stakeholder – corporate, trust, statutory and individual, needs to be listened to and understood.
That is why meeting 35,000 supporters constantly intrigues, fascinates and informs me. Especially when they bounce ideas off one another (not possible in a one to one).
Listening to supporters at events, on the phone and one to one are the biggest opportunities we have to understand a legacy prospect’s journey and to understand how to maintain their happiness and future gift.
Do we treat supporters as equals or idiots?
One recent example: I have been sent a telephone script which follows up a legacy letter. The first 2.5 minutes were by the charity telling the supporters (long term supporters!) what the charity does.
It took about three minutes to get to the objective of the call: legacy giving.
A word leaps into my mind: patronising. What is the phone call for? Get to the point and “treat me with respect”. All this call did was produce doubt: why is this charity calling?
It is the age of intelligent donors and legacy prospects
Current legacy prospects are the silent generation and baby boomers. Are they savvy? Have they worked? Are they exceptionally generous?
Yes, to all three questions.
Do they really understand the impact they make?
No, because we run out of time explaining features and not outcomes. Sadly they often cannot imagine the impact their legacy might make.
SHUT UP and LISTEN
The best way of understanding the needs and knowledge of supporters is to find out what they know and do NOT know. What information do they need to put their future gift in their Will NOW?
The only way to find this out is by asking questions.
The only solution is training fundraisers in active listening techniques.
How many courses focus on this? I run them but few others do. Shame on the sector.
|Listening is the only thread which should be sewn into the hearts and minds of all fundraisers.|
My answer to “Where’s the water?” is
“where is your love and interest in people?”
Actually my brain is saying: “Surely you can’t have a partner because you would not be interested in her/him”
Charities are all about partnerships – the giver and the receiver.
Dwight Eisenhower said
Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.
That is what great fundraising is all about.
Richard Radcliffe FCIoF Cert is now 68 and after over 30 years in advising charities on increasing legacy income is as frustrated as he has ever been. But he is determined to continue to affect change in donor and fundraiser mindsets until he dies. Which he hopes is not for a long while.