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A Silent Gvir's Unspoken Generosity

Just the other day, a client of mine (and reader of these emails) dropped an email into my inbox that I believe will strike a chord with many of you.

He wrote, "You've told me to engage donors by asking questions, getting them talking. But this past week, I encountered a new prospective donor who seemed more keen on listening than speaking.”

Sound familiar?

Ahh, yes. I can see it now. That one prospect, masterfully elusive, with a calm demeanor that borders on intimidating.

Yes, he’s the one who leans back in his chair and asks “What’s going on?” or “How can I help you?” and waits for a response.

These deep-pocketed, silent types can appear quite enigmatic, can't they? But fear not! I've gathered a handful of strategies to coax them out of their shells.

Engaging in conversations with such individuals is an art, akin to a well-choreographed dance. At times, you lead, and at others, you follow. But it's all about maintaining rhythm and harmony. So, let me share some dance steps for your conversational repertoire:

Picture yourself at a simcha, bumping into someone who shares your enthusiasm for Maharal sefarim, or biking, or... (insert your passion here). Doesn't it feel like you've found a long-lost sibling?

Now, with your silent gvir sitting across the table, aim to find that common ground. If you know something about the donor's hobbies or interests, weave that into your conversation. It's a proven way to create an instant connection.

And what if this still does not get them talking?

Well, my zayde used to tell me, "If you want trust, offer trust first." If your prospective donor seems hesitant to share, take the first step. Share a bit about yourself that ties in with the mission and values of your organization. You'll be surprised how this sets the stage for openness.

So, we need to talk about the awkward silences. They might feel as intense as a storm, but honestly, they're not.Some folks need those pauses to gather their thoughts before they respond. So, in those quiet moments, inhale, count to five, and let them fill the silence.

Let's not forget, it's perfectly fine to follow their lead. If they seem more eager to discuss the organization's work, its impact, or future plans, well, jump right in! You'll find as they become more engaged, they may also become more open.

Above all, remember to respect their space. Some people are simply more comfortable in the role of the listener. As the old adage goes, "still waters run deep". Even in their silence, you can discern their values and interests from their reactions and feedback.

So, gentlemen, here are the golden nuggets to remember:

  • Find Common Ground: Foster a connection through shared interests.
  • Share First: Lay a foundation of trust by sharing about yourself.
  • Use Silence: Allow them the space to think and respond.
  • Follow their Lead: Start with the organization's work if they seem inclined.
  • Respect their Comfort Zone: Acknowledge and respect their preference to listen.

Let me remind you, it may take more than just one meeting for a prospective donor to truly open up. Be patient, and resist the urge to push.

No two conversations are the same, and being flexible, patient, and authentic can move mountains. The conversational dance might seem a tad awkward at first, but with practice, you'll be twirling through it like a pro!

Keep the channels of communication open, my friends. Remember, your prospective donor, silent as they may be, is a treasure trove of thoughts.

Have a great week,



© Avraham Lewis & Co.