When my daughter was in second grade, I spoke to her class about my work as a fundraiser on career day. Based on her introduction of me, she had her own take on my job: “My mom says hi a lot at work. ‘Hi … hi … hi!’”
I was fascinated and, later, asked her to tell me more: “Well, when we go places, you say, ‘Hi, Kim, how was your weekend?’ and ‘Hi, Mark, how’s your family?’ ‘Hi … hi … hi.’”
She was right! Like my father, I’ve never met a stranger. And like my mother, I always want to know a person’s story.
Meeting people, hearing what makes them tick and introducing them to organizations that address the issues they care about most—that’s what I love to do. As fundraisers, we always should be asking questions and listening to the answers: “Hi, Rachel, how was your meeting with the City Commissioner?” “Hi, Frank, how’s it going as campaign chair?”
One particularly meaningful outcome of asking and listening came following a donor’s death. He had included the nonprofit in his estate, and we were organizing a reception to honor his legacy. I knew this event came with unique challenges. His two children had not spoken to each other in 20 years. I understood the magnitude of this moment. We weren’t simply administrating a fundraising to-do; we were making history.
After reaching out to the donor’s children, both siblings agreed to attend. Being in the same place at the same time, and hearing the impact of their family’s gift, culminated in what Hartsook refers to as the power of philanthropy—the ability to have a greater impact together than we could alone.
What started with an exchange of “Hellos” between siblings at the reception turned into small talk and progressed to priceless reconciliation.
Not surprisingly, I still keep in touch with them both … just to say, “Hi … hi … hi …”