Donors need relationship and ministry far more than you need their money. If you don’t see ministry to the donor as your higher calling, your donors are destined to be mere objects in your life and organization — and the connection between you and them will be sadly unsatisfying.

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is about trust: “How do donors learn to trust your friendship when they know what you do for a living — and that you really want them to give to your organization?”

To answer the question, we can look at any healthy friendship and inspect the dynamics of the interaction between the two parties.

* What do they talk about?

* What do they receive from each other?

* What do they require of each other?

In a healthy friendship, it’s not all about just one friend or the other. The interaction isn’t all about one guy’s job or one person’s family issues. It’s about a valuable relationship.

When you interact with your donor as friends would do, you minister to that person relationally.

As you meet with major donors or prospects, focus on them, not yourself. Focus on their lives, not your ministry organization’s next challenge. And don’t ask them for money every time you communicate with them.

The myth of the “major donor solicitor” (a horrible term but one which is widely used anyway) is that every conversation is either a “setting up” for a “sale” — or the “close” of the “sale.” If this were true, it would be a grim kind of work indeed. The truth is that only a slender percentage of your life and work should involve asking for money.

The rest of the time should be spent listening to and ministering to donors … especially your “major” ones!