Do You Like Pina Coladas? Part One.

by Kerry Burke on August 26, 2011


Why yes, yes I do like pina coladas. Don't mind if I do...

Blind Dating for Today’s Fundraiser.

Before you can be ready to go on a blind date with a donor,  you have to be prepared. You have to, first and foremost, believe that you  deserve to go on this date and that you have something to offer to your date. This  means that you truly are interested in what they have to say and who they are. Because this is specifically geared toward fundraiser/donor relationship, I will use the word “donor” instead of “date.” But this advice is solid for either situation, work donor visit or personal blind date.

One word: grooming. I do not condone measuring yourself against a Cosmo cover model,  (who is air-brushed btw.) I mean do you have a clean shirt? How about a stain-free tie or scarf? Do you believe in showering and grooming to the best of your ability? Now practice smiling in the mirror. Beautiful! You’re ready.

Are you interesting? Do you read newspapers? Do you have a hobby? Own a dog? Stay. Away. From Politics.

More importantly, are you interested? What does this mean? It means do you know how to listen. Really listen. Not just nod your head and look around but really comprehend what your donor is telling you. We’ve all been there, chatting with someone and they’re like, “uh huh, uh huh, ooooh, interesting… mmmm…” but all the while they look like a swarm of butterflies is about to burst forth from their mouth, they are so jonesing for their turn. Tip: they don’t hear a flipping word you are saying. Don’t be that person. The most charming quality one can possess is good listening skills.

Do you have something in common with your donor? I guess you’ll find out on your first meeting, when you listen intently to what they tell you. Ask questions. “What made you decide to do that?” “What do you think about this?” I was just eavesdropping on a donor solicitation at this coffee shop I’m sitting at, and the staffer asked “what was it that made you decide to get involved with us?” Beautiful. Ask for advice if you can. This makes a donor feel really good. But don’t do it if you don”t plan to at least take it back to your boss and pitch it.

Do you own reliable, clean transportation? This is a must. Doesn’t have to be fancy, doesn’t have to be new, just in good working order and CLEAN. Can’t be driving your donor around with a muffler hanging off your car. Just sayin’.

Do you have an exit strategy? Whether your meeting is going well or not so well, be gracious about your exit. “I have so enjoyed meeting you. Thank you so much for your time. And thank you so much for your interest in and support of our organization.” Do not say you’ll call if you have no plans to call. If they’re not a viable prospect? Put it on them. “Here is my card, please call if you have any questions or want to talk again.”

Always pay. No exceptions. I once had to stop and run my change through a Coin Star machine in order to cover the cost of my donor’s coffee. Now, this was a low-point, I don’t mind saying, and I highly recommend you figure out how to avoid this situation.

What NOT to discuss on your first date:

• Specific campaigns

• Money

• Problems with organization

• Issues you have at work

• Personal issues

• No personal facts unless specifically asked

Well, all this pontificating is exhausting. I need an Arnie Palmer. I hope this primer on blind-dating for the fundraiser has been enlightening. Stay tuned for my subsequent weekly pieces, expounding on this very interesting topic.

Next week’s topic: Walking the Delicate Line Between Staffer and Friend

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