Patience in Fundraising Always Wins

Itmight sound counterintuitive, but patient fundraisers are always the most successful.

The charismatic, pushy salesperson who won’t leave donors alone and squeezes big donations out of rich people might be a fun stereotype, but evidence points to the patient fundraiser as the one who actually raises the most money.

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about fundraisers who are afraid to actually make the ask or get stuck in relationship building forever. I’m talking about the fundraiser who knows that making space to deeply listen to donors and who respects them enough to know the timing should always be on their terms, not based on the organization’s needs.

Make More Space

First, patient fundraisers make space to deeply listen to their donors.  They provide them with the time, space, and silence necessary to understand their unique needs, challenges, and goals. Patient fundraisers don’t pitch the needs of the organization first. They ask their donors questions about their philanthropic goals, what they want to achieve through their philanthropy, and listen to understand how the timing of a gift would work best for the donor’s unique family and life situation.

Embrace Silence

Patient fundraisers know that making space for silence in donor conversations is not only respectful, but strategic. Most fundraisers find silence uncomfortable and quickly look to fill it. However by allowing for pauses and lulls in conversation, patient fundraisers make space for their donors to formulate better answers—giving the fundraiser more information to more effectively tailor what they share and present as funding opportunities.

Honor Donor Timing

Patient fundraisers know the timing of a gift should always be on the donor’s timeline, not based on their organization’s needs. Patient fundraisers never pressure the donor into giving a gift before they have all of their questions answered, the important family members and financial advisors consulted, and they feel ready and excited to make a gift. Patient fundraisers are donor advocates inside their organization and refuse to be pressured by their boss to meet internal goals instead of honoring the donor’s process.

Trust the Process

Patient fundraisers know that big philanthropic decisions take time. And know that usually the bigger the gift, the longer the process will be. Patient fundraisers are in the relationship for the long haul and know that sometimes the biggest gifts take years to come together. 

Patient fundraisers balance having a sense of urgency and being goal-oriented with being patient and donor-centered. They know how to balance patience and persistence. They don’t rush the process, they trust it.

Donors enjoy working with fundraisers who are patient, yet persistent — who they can tell truly have their best interests in mind, who don’t try and force a gift, and who take the time to deeply listen to them. 

Fundraising is one of those careers that requires hustle, stamina, persistence, curiosity, sharp negotiating skills, self-reflection, empathy and yes — patience.

Amy Varga

Amy Varga


Amy Varga is a beloved fundraising trainer, coach and consultant. She and her team at The Varga Group have guided over a hundred nonprofit clients to raise millions of dollars through their services in capital campaign counsel, major gifts training, leadership coaching, and board development projects.