Fifth in a Five-Part Series: It’s Not Rocket Science

 “Listening takes sacrifice.”
— Paul Tripp

Listen to your donors and colleagues.Leadership is about listening.
As a major gift fundraiser, everything you need to help you be successful requires that you listen.
Admittedly, I’ve not been the best listener throughout my career. But as I get older, I’m becoming better. I’ve made a ton of mistakes by NOT listening to others well. It’s taken me 53 years to get to a point where I know I NEED to slow down and genuinely listen to others.
It’s made me a better leader. You don’t have to wait until you’re 53 to figure this out. Being a leader requires that you listen – to your donors, to your colleagues… and to your own inner voice.
Major gift fundraising is a pressure-inducing career. That pressure causes you to rush, to push some people aside, to plow through your tasks without thinking.
Think how your donors must feel when they don’t think they’ve been heard. Over my career, I’ve talked to so many donors who have told me they “don’t feel the non-profit cares what I think.” Or I’ve heard, “the non-profit has their agenda, and they don’t seem to care what I actually want to give to.”
This happens when you don’t listen.
In a recent New York Times article by Tim Herrrera, entitled “3 Tips to Have Better Conversations,” he quotes Akash Karia who says, “For me it comes down to being aware that I should be more interested than I should be interesting.”
I think that is perfect for you as a major gift fundraiser. Being more interested means being curious, asking questions, probing… in a respectful way. Why? Because your job is to know your donors – to find out what their passions and interests are, and why they have them.
Major gift fundraising leaders listen to serve their donors. (Tweet it!)
They also listen to those inside the organization. They listen to finance and program, executives and the front desk person. All of them have insight to serve your donor better.
In this series around leadership and the five areas that are most overlooked, I hope you were able to gain the insight that YOU are, in fact, a leader. And that leadership means taking responsibility for work and getting things done.
To review, leaders…

  1. Execute — You knock down barriers and get things done.
  2. Strive for excellence — You consistently do those small, everyday acts well.
  3. Use influence — You improve your organization’s culture of philanthropy and major gifts. It’s not about waiting for someone else to do it for you. You can lead that change.
  4. Leaders are real people — You build relationships with donors and your colleagues, and you gain their trust in the process.
  5. Listen — You listen to your donors and to your colleagues, to better serve your donors.

Be the leader you were meant to be. Be great at these five things that leadership requires. Remember, leaders don’t wait around for someone else to do something. Leaders take it upon themselves to move forward.
Read all the posts in this series: