Fundraising Wisdom From a 25-Year Pro: Connie Sanderson, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children
As well as her reverence for the past, those who know and work with Sanderson bear witness to her foresight and ability to plan and act strategically for long-term results.
Sanderson’s colleague, Shelley Richardson, vice president for advancement at Champlain College, says, “Connie realized early on in her career that ensuring a level of security for Kurn Hattin meant learning about estate-planning programs and expanding planned-giving options and opportunities for donors to leave a legacy. Her deep knowledge of these tools, combined with her loyalty to her donors and passion for the organization’s mission, has resulted in tremendous planned gifts for Kurn Hattin in perpetuity.”
In the spirit of handing down wisdom from those who have forged a path before us, Sanderson shares some of the advice, tips and best practices she has gathered over her own quarter-century of fundraising success. The following are her responses:
Put people first
A major part of our success is due to the fact that we believe first in our relationships with our supporters. We nurture those relationships because we care about them as people. You can learn about programs, techniques and ways to solicit funds, but what you need most in the fundraising profession is the love of people, the desire to spend time with people and to really listen to them.
Building real relationships must be done in person, so get out of the office when you can. When I go on the road to visit and thank our supporters, I’m coming as a person first. Because they know and trust me as an individual with whom they have a personal relationship, it opens up communication about the needs of the organization as a personal conversation, rather than a business one. Our donors want the same things we want: attention, respect and to be a force for good in the world. Speak to them from the heart in person, and they will almost always become steadfast supporters.