One of my favorite fundraising tips is this: simply spend time with your partners. Quincy Jones calls it “Hanging 101.” There is tremendous creativity and trust that builds when you spend time with people with no set expectations and no agenda. It’s a true spontaneous exchange. Meeting your partners right where they are.
Dick Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner and current Chairman of Citigroup, told me years ago that Quincy is one of the only people in his life who calls him “just to check in.” That simple comment was a huge ‘aha’ for me since I had been, up until then, under the impression that I didn’t want to bother the busy philanthropists with whom I worked. Also, my own save-the-world agenda was far too busy for leisurely conversations. I needed a reason to call or meet with someone. And in those calls and meetings, I had better be efficient and task-oriented. After that talk with Dick, I realized just how much power there is in this simple act of spending time with my philanthropic partners.
Now I rarely, if ever, meet with people in their offices. Aside from the fact that people are often “in character” in the office, it’s usually simply not conducive to allowing conversations to unfold in an organic and leisurely manner. I would much prefer to meet someone over a meal or a coffee where we can explore things on a deeper level, where we can imagine new opportunities for collaboration and where we can build a more authentic, lasting relationship.
Hanging 101, a freshman course in Exponential Fundraising. Don’t cut it!