What problems do your prospects and donors have? What concerns do they carry? What issues are they facing? Do you know? Do you seek out their problems so that you can help solve them?
They might not want to tell you about their problems (or they may not even know they have a problem!). So, our work is to actively listen. To observe. To discern. To pay attention. It takes time – much time. And it is tiring.
What is their emotional state? What are their expressions communicating? Are they anxious? What are they not saying? These are the kinds of questions we should ask ourselves as we engage others. These are the kinds of questions that help us find out and, ultimately, solve problems.
The problems don’t have to be big to be important. They might be the “problem” of an alumna reminiscing with you about her days in the choir. “You know,” she might say, “I used to listen to our choir recording all the time. I loved re-living our concert in New York in 1977. Somewhere along the lines, I lost that record.”
That’s a problem. And if you can track down a cd of that concert and send it to her, you have solved her problem. And she will be grateful.
When our work evolves from a need to “tell our institution’s story,” to a search for solving their problems, we are getting closer to building the authentic relationships from which significant gifts emerge. When you help your donors and prospects with their problems, concerns, and issues, they will be more apt to help you with yours.