Great Fundraising Video Tip One: First seek to understand

I’m excited to be sharing with you, over the course of this short video series, a few tips to help you grow great fundraising results through increased understanding and better communication. Here’s the first:

Several years ago, when my husband and I were headed out of town together for the first time, the subject of how we should pack and which suitcases we would use. We both heard the same information – we would have multiple legs on our flight.

My first thought was, we should try to pack light and not check any bags. Bags get lost and the chances of it getting lost increase each time you change airplanes.

Almost the first words out of my new husband’s mouth were: “we should definitely check our bags then.” I hope I was more gracious than my memory tells me I was. My reply was something to the effect of “why in the world would we want to do that?”

It turns out that our flying experiences have been very different. Until he met me, Rob had never had a bag lost while he traveled. On the other hand, I’ve had my luggage misdirected more times than I can remember. And the trend hasn’t reversed since I met my husband. If only our luck could have changed in the other direction!

So Rob’s train of thought was simple: why would we want to lug our luggage around multiple airports if the airline could do it for us.

I think this story illustrates my first tip perfectly: everyone doesn’t think the same way you do – and that’s okay.

But what does this have to do with great fundraising? There’s a report that recently came out – it was commissioned by Clayton Burnett in the UK with research completed by Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang. They hope to identify which circumstances in the organizations allowed truly great fundraising to flourish. One of the indicators they identified was outstanding structure – including the ability of fundraising leaders to manage outside of formal authority structures (and the flexibility in the organization to allow for that).

Influence and persuasion becomes much more important when trying to work outside those formal authority structures. This becomes much easier when we realize that we need to first seek to understand where the other person is coming from, rather than assuming they have the same worldview we do.

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