If you’ve ever been on an inspiring and engaging guided tour of a museum, a zoo, a historical site, a botanical garden, or even a city, chances are you were led by an experienced and talented docent.
The word, “docent,” is defined most simply as a college or university teacher or lecturer (not at the professor level) or an individual who leads guided tours at cultural institutions.
But, in addition to being a subject matter expert, the very best docents are:
- Stimulators of curiosity
- Artful storytellers
- Expert question-askers
- Empathic listeners
- Creators of buy-in among audiences
- Skilled at engaging diverse populations
- Effective interpersonal communicators
- Educators that delight
In short, great docents are guides that invite people to learn more, to engage more personally with the subject matter, and to return. Great docents invite people to care more deeply.
Our advancement and development work is no different. Of course we need to know our subject matter – our university, our hospital, or our social service organization.
But, we don’t become the most effective advancement professionals until we view ourselves as educators, engagers, and inviters.
We don’t do our best work until we understand and facilitate the human generosity journey for others in ways that captivate their imaginations.
We aren’t truly successful until we develop and employ the myriad skills designed to consistently enlighten and delight others.
Perhaps, when someone asks us what we do professionally, we should start our response by asking, “Do you know what a Giving Docent is?”