Taking the Time to Listen

As a Sharpe Group editor, one of the privileges of my job is interviewing our clients’ donors in order to write stories about their giving. I don’t usually speak in absolutes, but in this instance I will: EVERY donor I’ve ever interviewed—and there are hundreds—has a wonderful story to tell; you’ve just got to listen.

Certainly, some donors are more talkative and forthcoming with their motivations than others, but those who aren’t present a challenge to unearth the motivations that compel them to make these wonderful gifts. Oftentimes, that conversation starts with something as simple as a “thank you.”

Take, for instance, my 92-year old, recently widowed father. Spoiler alert: He’s one of those planned giving donors who hasn’t raised his hand, so the charities that are included in his estate plans don’t know they are.

In the wake of the Coronavirus and self-quarantine, my father is perfectly content staying at home. He has a grandson who is tending to his immediate needs (food, medications, etc.), he can worship with his church online, he has unlimited access to The Hallmark Channel, and he can FaceTime his granddaughter.

Overall, though, my father is lonely. After losing my mother, his day-to-day life changed dramatically. One constant and comfort for him has been that he has continued to give to charities he and my mother supported. He hasn’t adjusted his support one bit and probably won’t even in the wake of market uncertainty. Why? Because he loves each one of the charities and, most importantly, honors my mother’s memory with his support. He’s made giving a priority in his day-to-day life.

With the chaos that is going on in our world today, and the necessary isolation of older members of our population , what a wonderful opportunity to reach out and thank them for their support and take the opportunity to listen to their story. For one, your planned giving donors would love to hear from you. More importantly, this may be a great time to get to know them better and strengthen your relationship with them. This is a perfect opportunity to do that.

I can’t help but think what a wonderful opportunity for one of those charities to call my father or send him a card or an email letting him know they are thinking of him and thanking him for his support. Even better, my father has a great story to tell…now is the perfect time to listen.

 

By Ashley McHugh, Sharpe Group Senior Editor and Director of Content

 

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