What We NEED To Know | Sharpe Group
Posted February 5th, 2024

What We NEED To Know

When I have a project on my to-do list, I like to prepare far in advance. For me, it feels good to have a looming assignment taken care of.

This is why I began working on my presentations for the recent Sharpe Charitable Giving SUMMIT in September of last year. I did my research, designed and reordered my slides a few times and added helpful notes. Then I began practicing and practicing and practicing some more. I felt like I was prepared well in advance.

Yet, when January rolled around and I approached my first presentation, I realized I had lost my fluid and natural presentation style. Panic began to grow as I questioned, “Where is that slide? I know I put it in the presentation!”

I realized I may have over-prepared, focusing too deeply on the granular. I had approached my presentation like a graded term paper when I should have looked at it as an informed conversation with colleagues who were interested in my experience and perspective.

The pitfalls of being over-prepared can also pertain to donor meetings. We can get so mired in the details or a desire to “get it right” that we miss the nuance of what should be just a relationship-building conversation. It’s easy to be so focused on what we do know (their connection to your mission, their recency and frequency of giving, etc.) that we do not hear what we NEED to know. Allow for some breathing room in a conversation with a donor.

Listening well is a skill that can be honed with practice. Being able to hear what a person means, not just what they say, is even easier with more ears. Because it can be difficult to actively listen and actively participate in a conversation, it is helpful to have two people at a donor meeting.

Above all, when you have a donor meeting on your to-do list, do your homework while knowing that the goal isn’t necessarily to “get it right” but rather to build a relationship so you can help your donor find what is the best match for their philanthropy and your mission.

Sharpe Group Senior Consultant Kristin Croone

Kristin Croone, JD, is a senior consultant who assists her clients with estate settlement as well as provides advice and develops strategies for successful gift planning programs. Connect with Kristin at kristin.croone@sharpegroup.org or via LinkedIn.



Sharpe consultants can train your team have successful discussions with your donors about planned gifts. Join us for an in-person seminar or our new Virtual Academy, or have one of our experts bring an onsite, customized training event to your team.

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