Be the person you want to be with!

by Marcy Heim on April 10, 2019

Are you fun to be with? Do you leave your donors excited and uplifted…or deflated and glad THAT’S over?  Remember..every time you interact with another person you have an opportunity to leave them in a different place. It’s NOT about you, your day, your problems, your opinions or your crap.

AFP ICON 2019 Session

What a gift to be surrounded by over 7000 development professionals and your incredible zest for your missions and donors!  I’m just back from standing room-only sessions at AFP ICON, (Thank you Kendall!) Marcy & Kendall

NAYDO (Thank you, Carolyn, Mary and Pam!) plus great experiences with Marcy, Shayna, Kishshanaprivate clients. Thank you!  Kishshana Palmer and I redefined the CFRE Refresher Course experience at AFP ICON too! Thanks Kish! WoHoo!


Also at AFP-ICON I was delighted to catch up with friend and donor researcher, Penelope Burk. With over 3 decades of successful major gift work, I would say, “In my experience…”and her research would dig deep into what donors feel and think and prove me right!

In a nutshell,

Leave another person better

Here are my Top 10 ways you can be the person your givers want to be with.

  1. Be eager towards life.  Each day is a gift, not a burden.
  2. Understand that face-to-face visits are scary at first for givers too.
  3. Be interested in your givers, yet also be willing to briefly share your story.
  4. Be fun. It doesn’t mean you’re not “professional.”
  5. Be polite, but not stiff.
  6. Take care of yourself so you are alert and focused.
  7. Be clear.
  8. Be brief but not hurried.
  9. Be grateful and appreciative.
  10. Continuously connect the dots between your donors giving and what the money does.

I love, love, love the energy at conferences. We grow from the messages of the presenters, by networking with each other, and through the reflection that getting away from our regular days affords us.

Here are some ah-ha’s I had from being there as participant and presenter:

*Older donors are narrowing their giving focus to larger gifts for fewer organizations because they perceive there is are costs to giving and this is less as a percentage the larger the gift. Penelope Burk research

*In all our life experiences – “good” and “bad” 1) find the lesson, 2) ask for help and 3) create social value – this is not political, rather, do something for someone else. Spencer West (keynote speaker who has no legs by the way)

*Donors want THREE things every time they give. 1) To be acknowledged promptly IN THE MAIL, 2) The ability to give to a specific project or program (vs unrestricted) and 3) A report in meaningful terms from the organization describing what happened with their gift.  Penelope Burk research

*When a Board member calls and leaves a brief thank you message (most of the time) or shares a brief conversation, 95% of the donors who received the calls said this was key in them giving again.  Penelope Burk research

*The hardest part of completing anything is really the middle. You start off with a bang, then energy falters, and the last push to finish can seem really hard. Give yourself the gift of Finished! Jon Acuff

*People love to give me money! Marcy Heim…singing with you all!

Finally, several speakers addressed chronic overtime and the self-care needed in our profession. Coming up in May, I’ll be keynoting a large senior care conference about the nursing team continuing to balance what can be draining deep care for patients and residents and having a life at the end of the work day free of the weight of the work.  Chronic overtime is a complete WASTE of time. The research shows you are 50% less productive after 8 hours…and it only gets worse.

Exhausted, worrying and wondering if you can eek something out of your main donors diminishes the joy of giving for them AND you! You will never know what a donor might do because they don’t know – that’s why you are on the journey together!

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at

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