What can counselling teach corporate fundraising?

Building strong relationships helps you win new business. It lays the foundations for successful partnerships and their growth and retention.  In the words of the psychotherapist Mick Cooper: 

 “Relational depth is a state of profound contact and engagement between people.”

In this blog, Briony Markham, a trained counsellor and member of the Remarkable Partnerships team, talks us through five person-centred counselling skills that will help you build successful corporate partnerships.

1. Active listening

As a corporate fundraiser you want to make sure you hear what your prospect or partner tells you they need. Don’t make assumptions.  We recommend you ask open questions, really listen to the answers then summarise back to so they know they have been understood. Active listening is an important life skill and an essential tool for every corporate fundraiser.  

2. Be authentic

People relate to people, so be yourself.  This will build trust so you can sail through any storm which you meet along the way.  Sometimes this will involve admitting you made a mistake, or shifting a partnership due to a strategy change within the company.

When you meet with a prospect it is essential that you build your relationship. An effective way to do this is to share a story about your cause which means something to you.  By being real you give your prospect permission to do the same. And relationships built on authenticity are rare and powerful.

3. Be empathetic

Make it your goal to understand where your partner or prospect is coming from.  Research is vital when you are writing a proposal and for relationship building.  We recommend you ask yourself these three questions:

  • What keeps their CEO awake at night?
  • What are their business priorities right now?
  • How can our proposal/partnership help them deliver on those business priorities?

You also want to be aware of any changes that happen in the company and how this might affect your relationship. So we encourage you to follow them on social media and book in a catch-up meeting to find out what is happening with them.

4. Have clear boundaries
Counsellors have to keep clear boundaries so they protect themselves and their client.  We also need to protect ourselves and our charities, so this means we sometimes need to say “No” to a company. However, it is important we say it nicely, because someday we might want to get back in touch and revisit that opportunity.

Also look after yourself.  A counsellor has to look after themselves because the have tools which enable clients to make important changes.  Corporate fundraisers are the same. You are building corporate-charity partnerships for a better world. So, look after your wellbeing and this will enable you to be professional and deliver what you say you are going to deliver.

5. Timing is everything

In counselling you have to keep strict time boundaries. As corporate fundraisers planning your time efficiently is important to set expectations with your prospects and partners. When you create joint partnership plans and keep them informed of progress, you demonstrate you are professional and reliable, and this builds up valuable trust. 

If you want to find out any more about how to build successful relationships with your current partners to increase value and extend their commitment, join our Account Management Crash Course on the 23rd, 25th and 30th November 2021. 

“Being empathetic is seeing the world through the eyes of the other,

not seeing your world reflected in their eyes.”

Carl Rogers

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