Our insight panels are expressly designed to help donors feel seen and heard. Sometimes however we hear from organizations who are reluctant to ask donors for their thoughts. They worry that asking donors for their thoughts may give rise to donor expectations that can’t be met.

But here’s the thing: whatever donors want is secondary to their wanting to be seen as human beings and not as ATMs.

We’ve all experienced the angry donor (or customer or constituent) who is seething with frustration. But once you engage them in honest conversation, the anger vanishes. We’ve heard more than one story of angry donors ready to stop giving transformed into passionate evangelists by a patient and sincere phone conversation with an MGO.

Harvard’s Dr. Julia Minson studies the power of listening in polarized conversations around things like race and abortion. She says “making somebody feel heard doesn’t require changing your mind.” And being heard is what really matters.

Human resources guru Graham Townley puts it this way:

“Genuine listening builds bridges of connection and strengthens the bonds within teams and communities. Being heard is a fundamental human need that holds tremendous power in fostering happiness, well-being, and personal growth.”

 Our advice is to worry less about fostering unrealistic donor expectations and instead worry more about making sure your donors know that you know they exist.