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Preventing Awkward Moments in Fundraising

As a front-line fundraiser, I can relate to those moments during a donor visit. How you handle missteps reflects your resilience as a professional fundraiser. We can all reflect on those times when a visit or interaction with a donor didn’t go as planned.

True story: I was on my way to a donor visit with colleagues from our marketing department. We were going to interview our top donor and take photos. We arrived about an hour early, so we stopped at a nearby convenience store for a cool drink. Getting back into the car, we were ready to go but the vehicle clearly was not.

My colleagues were in a panic, what do we do? Since I knew the donor, I called him to explain the situation. He was happy to meet us, and jump start our car. He happened to be a car enthusiast and promised he had jumper cables that “could wake the dead”.

This made a great story and the donor said later he would have been upset if I hadn’t called him. Because I knew him and his willingness to help others, I didn’t hesitate to reach out.

I’ve also heard tales of the solicitation visit going horribly wrong. For example, the donor wasn’t expecting the ask, so their reaction wasn’t positive, and the relationship was damaged. This misstep could have been due to a lack of planning or a decision to rush the ask.

Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you avoid those awkward moments:

Have a sense of humor and humility. We are seldom in charge of the universe, things happen.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in startup and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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