Last week, I talked about five critical success factors that are necessary if you want to raise significant charitable gifts for a worthy non-profit. One of those factors was a skilled staff who can motivate and inspire , and how it is important to have a skilled team who can both identify areas where gifts can have a powerful and positive impact on your organization’s mission and who can build strong relationships with donors. At Swedish, I am fortunate to work alongside an impressive team of fundraisers who continue to generate critical gifts for Swedish and our patients.

In this post, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned from my colleagues and spotlight a few traits that make an effective fundraiser:

  • Sincerity - Donors invest in organizations that they trust, and nothing builds trust better than sincerity. At Swedish, our doctors, administration and Foundation staff are all passionate about improving healthcare, and that sincerity and passion is evident to our donors.
  • The ability to listen - During gift conversations, more times than not donors they will tell you what is important to them, or what they want from you. Sometimes they can be direct, sometimes the clues are much more subtle, often requiring the fundraiser to infer what is being said. This can only be accomplished by listening, and listening closely. My colleagues have shown me the value of doing more listening than talking.
  • An interest in learning from others - Related closely to the ability to listen is the sincere (there is that word again) interest in other people. Most people who have the capacity to give away substantial sums of money have something to teach us. They became successful because they were experts in their field (I’ve learned that it is rarely just plain luck). A genuine interest in hearing about their business success or about what past gifts have been the most meaningful to them personally, which donors will usually enthusiastically share, helps us understand the donor better and we may just learn something that we can apply to make our own healthcare system stronger.
  • The ability to be a “matchmaker” - I’ve learned over the years that most people believe fundraising is about asking people for money. I’ve learned from my colleagues that fundraising is less about asking and more about matching the right project/need with the right donor at the right time. Asking for money is the easy part; spending the time to learn what is meaningful to a donor and finding a project in their area of interest is the part that requires patience and skill.

In the next few weeks, I plan to share a few stories, about both generous donors and patients, that highlights the real impact giving can have on a patient’s care.

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