A Fundraiser’s Secret Weapon: Your Radar


Last week’s post on the “Fundraiser’s Kiss of Death – Talking Too Much” generated lots of interesting comments.

My readers all enjoyed the story of the donor visit that went sour.

Your Radar is Your Best Fundraising Tool!

But here’s the funny thing:

Why was I consistently able to develop terrific relationships with my major prospects – even when others failed?

There was a very specific reason that I was successful (besides knowing when to shut up!)

I used my radar. And I knew when to get out the door.

Here’s another true story:

I was in New York City, sitting in a lobby in a huge skyscraper.

And I was waiting for my biggest donor prospect of all – a very wealthy hedge fund guru.

As I prepared for the visit, I knew that above all, I wanted to keep and sustain his interest.

And that could be tough. Because . . .

I knew this prospect had a very short attention span.

In fact, it was just about 13 ½ minutes.

And that was on a good day!

(Do YOU have a donor with a very short attention span? Bet you do!)

So my goal, when I came to visit him, was to get out of his office before he was bored and distracted.

I wanted to stay exactly as long as I could have his attention, and not one moment longer.

(You see, if I overstayed my welcome, it might not be able to get another appointment with him. Then all would be lost!)

So I had to employ my secret tool:  my RADAR.

When I visited with him, my radar would go round and round, over and over.

I was watching for signals that would tell me the level of his attention.

I had to watch carefully for signs that told me:

  • How interested was he in our visit?
  • How interested was he in my cause?
  • Was I engaging him or was I boring him?
  • When did I need to make a quick exit?

Here was my checklist for what I was looking for:

A donor's body language can tell you alot.

  • Body language:

He was open, attentive and interested. Thank god his arms weren’t crossed – good sign.

  • Eyes:

He was looking at me with interest, at least for the first 8 minutes.  Then his eyes darted around and I could tell something else had crossed his mind.

I shifted in my seat, wondering if I should leave now.

  • Fidgeting:

He nervously fidgeted with something on his desk.  He must have been worked up about something but it wasn’t interfering with our conversation.

  • Tone of voice:

Sounded good. Seemed to be in a fairly good humor. I knew he had a bit of a volatile reputation so I was particularly watching for that!

  • Smiling:

Yes, thank goodness he was in a positive mindset. I knew better than to visit when he was upset.

  • His questions and comments:

These were the most important piece of information of all.

They were telling me what was on his mind — where he stood and what he was thinking about our project.

Totally invaluable. I noted what he asked about to record in my call report.

Then suddenly things changed.

All of a sudden his assistant popped her head in with some silent communication to him. Everything shifted.

He clearly moved on to something else that was more urgent and important.

Suddenly I was old news.

I stood up, smiled and got out the door.  I thanked my trusty radar for helping me  once again.

Don’t ever forget your secret tool.

Your radar won’t fail you if you focus carefully on your prospect. Then you can have the best visit ever.

How do you use your own radar?

Leave a comment and share it with us all –