Should fundraisers learn how to “dwell”with their donors?

I recently asked my friends Rebecca and David to join me to discuss an article that David had written about what leaders in higher education should expect of fundraising in the next year. Our conversation offered a whole new layer of meaning to David’s encouragement that advancement leaders need to be carefully thinking about renewal, re-engagement, and raising the bar. Perhaps what was profound about this conversation was the notion that fundraisers learn how to appropriately “dwell” with a donor in order to ensure that they are putting the relationship ahead of whatever proposal we are trying to advance. Afterwards, I had to double-check my understanding of what it means to “dwell” with someone; it is not a term I’m accustomed to using and certainly something I wanted to contemplate more. 

To “dwell” means to remain for a time, and when we say that we are dwelling with someone there is often a degree of intentionality that accompanies it. How many of us have learned how to dwell with a donor without finding it necessary to close the gift? This notion of dwelling echoes Rebecca’s challenge that, as we emerge from the pandemic, fundraisers will need permission to spend time with their donors having conversations that are about more than closing another gift. She insisted that we have to make room for listening to what people are saying to us, both directly and indirectly, about their experiences in the last two years and how all this will inform their decisions.

As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast. And if you’d like to download Responsive’s latest edition of Carefully & Critically, just click here.

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