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spilled-wine-header

Building donor relationships is vital. Meeting new people, creating friendships, and then asking for money was a proven philosophy for me in my career as a fundraiser.

When I was a director of development, I was invited (and tried to get myself invited) to social events around the city where I lived. Cocktail hours, receptions, and VIP gatherings were a great place to meet people that might have a passion for what my organization was doing, and who might want to support it financially.

At one such event, I was making the rounds. I engaged a nice couple in conversation.

Then, my klutz came out.

Because I use my hands a bit in conversation, I knocked a glass of RED wine on the lady’s WHITE cashmere sweater.

Nice!

Everyone was very gracious, but of course, I felt awful and very self conscious. The husband rushed to the bathroom to work his magic on trying to salvage the sweater while I stood red faced talking with the women about how clumsy I can be.

The night ended and I assumed I would never hear from or connect with the couple again. I was wrong.

In my follow-up communication (of course I sent an apology) I was able to use my self-deprecating humor to actually strengthen the relationship, learn a bit more about this fine couple, and they later became donors to my organization!

I learned:

  1. Always be yourself… even if you are a oaf like me!
  2. Donors are just like you… they love to laugh, make mistakes, and enjoy good company like anyone else does.
  3. Use every opportunity to build and strengthen relationships… asking for money comes later.
  4. Donors can become friends. My direct fundraising days are over, but this couple is still great friends of mine.

Have you ever turned an embarrassing situation into a fundraising success? Let me know in the comments below!

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Wayne Robbins

Wayne Robbins

Wayne Robbins was VP of Sales at Bloomerang. A graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, Wayne has over 15 years experience in nonprofit and faith-based development and fundraising in addition to his 10 years of experience in sales.