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.
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!
- Always be yourself… even if you are a oaf like me!
- Donors are just like you… they love to laugh, make mistakes, and enjoy good company like anyone else does.
- Use every opportunity to build and strengthen relationships… asking for money comes later.
- 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!