Listening and the 1%

I am a successful fundraiser. My team raises millions of dollars each year in support of our mission. But you may be surprised to learn that I spend maybe 1% of my time asking people for money. In fact, in an ideal world, I would like to spend my time in this way:

1% — asking for money
29% — helping others understand our mission
70% — listening to the hopes, dreams and frustrations of our donors

There is no greater gift you can give another human being than to listen. How often do we get the opportunity to talk out our hurts and our hopes, to speak about our problems and possible solutions, and to express our daily frustrations and joys to someone else. Not very often — but when we have that chance, soul-healing occurs.

When someone takes the time to listen, it gives us an opportunity to plumb the depths of our desires, not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but for the world in general.

Working as a fundraiser for Habitat, I hear stories about home. Like the woman, who in her teenage years, hopped from couch to couch in her neighborhood, because her parents couldn’t provide a stable home. Or the couple who lived in a run-down house the first several years of their marriage while one finished a degree. Or the young man who grew up with five siblings in a two-bedroom apartment with his mother.

Do you think these people understood Habitat? You bet they did. They also gave money. More than that — they advocate for us, they volunteer with us, they tell every one in town about the importance of our work. Because they had space to express their lives out loud, they have embraced their own path of healing for themselves and others.