Those Awkward Silences...

Do you feel like you have to fill every single silence in a donor conversation? 

Do you end up saying weird things, like:

“Woo, it sure is sunny outside. This weather, right?!” or
“Whew, I sure have had a lot of coffee today. Do you like coffee? I really like coffee. A little too much actually. Is it hot in here?”

I’ve used the restroom in the middle of a few donor visits just to talk to myself in the mirror:

“Calm down, crazy. You’re scaring the nice person.”

When you talk to a stranger, there are always awkward moments.

A donor once told me that the person who came to visit him a few years ago was really great, but I seemed nervous.

Which, um, made me nervous!

If you have these moments, try a few things that have helped me (almost) get over it:

  • 80/20 - Listen 80% of the time. Talk 20%. If you’re an extrovert this will be tough, but for my fellow introverts, this can lift the glorious burden of talking and put the emphasis where it belongs - on your donor. How do you only fill 20% of the conversation?
  • Ask amazing questions - Start a list of your favorite questions. Keep them in your notebook, so you can access them at any donor visit. A few of my faves:
    • How’d you go from an English major to CEO?
    • Did you always know you wanted to be… (in politics/a writer/on Broadway)?
    • Who influenced you and how?
    • What’s your favorite part/least favorite part of this job?
    • What are your hopes for this next generation of college grads?
    • What are you most proud of?
    • Why do you give?
    • What keeps you giving?
  • Peoples is Peoples -

Remember this quote from The Muppets Take Manhattan if you’re feeling nervous about walking into a fancy 42nd floor office, a gorgeous ocean-side mansion or just a Starbucks - people are just people. You’re a person. They’re a person. You’ll at least have this one thing in common!

You’ve got this!

If you need a little help with what else to learn in the conversation, download this worksheet and check out Fundraisers’ Monthly.

Get out there. Raise more money. Change the world!