An Insider’s Guide to Connecting with Donors

An Insider’s Guide to Connecting with Donors

An Insider’s Guide to Connecting with Donors

With the first month of 2019 behind us, how are your resolutions holding up? For many, the New Year marks time to set intentional goals for personal and professional aspirations. One month in, take stock of how you feel about yourself as a fundraiser – this kind of professional check-in can yield long lasting benefits. We recently sat down with seasoned fundraiser, Paige Panda, and asked her to share a few career ‘hacks’ and insights that have enabled her to connect well with major donors over the past thirteen years.

By: Paige Panda

The most successful development officers genuinely enjoy talking with others. Fundraisers enjoy listening and being authentically curious about the donors’ passion and interests. They consider themselves ambassadors to the organization they are representing and view major gift prospect work as a process – matching people’s passion to projects. A few thoughts for front line staff:

  • When working with your prospect pool – be clear on why you are coming to visit.
  • Don’t dance around the issue; be prepared, thoughtful and intentional with your ask because it will reflect well on you and the organization you are representing.
  • Donors do not magically know what you are asking for. Lead with a target ($) in mind and complete enough diligence on prospects to know who is going to help you reach your goal.
  • Carefully balance an ask that is not too ambitious or too low.
  • Fundraising takes time, patience and is a collaborative effort. Don’t expect glory and only pursue this line of work if you generally like talking and hearing personal narratives.
  • People give to People! Realize YOU are an important part of the gift process. Opportunity to learn from every donor you work with is possible but sometimes the lesson does not emerge until much later in life.

Lastly, show gratitude after time has been shared. Learning about a prospect’s philanthropic interests can be more valuable than picking up a check. Listening, building rapport and collecting information allows fundraisers to identify benefactors to future projects and careful stewardship can lead to gifts of a lifetime.

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Paige Panda is a talented development professional with well over a decade of experience. Paige is a graduate of Villanova University and received her Master’s in Family Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University.