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Million Dollars

That Time I Was Expecting a Million Dollar Check {Really} 


Written By: Cheyenne Palma Dominguez

During my fundraising career, I was once introduced by email to a very wealthy woman who was known for making seven-figure, multi-million dollar gifts to other charities in my community. I was super excited by the introduction. I had big fundraising goals and any introduction to a potential major donor could help tremendously. Through our mutual connection she kindly asked for an introduction to a local celebrity who was known to support our charity. She even offered to make a contribution to our charity as a token of thanks. After a few phone calls and the help of a coworker we made the introduction happen.

You can imagine my excitement when an envelope arrived to my office with her return name and address. I excitedly opened the envelope from this lovely woman who had given millions of dollars to other causes. Considering her charitable reputation, I was anticipating thousands of dollars (okay, why not a million?). But inside was a check for one hundred dollars. Needless to say, I was disappointed and rather confused. What went wrong? In short, everything.

I relied on one brief email and allowed my sheer excitement to lead me to a completely inaccurate assumption. Most importantly, I failed to LISTEN. To start, I should have requested a face to face meeting with her. In doing so, I would have taken the first step in getting to know her. I should have asked smart questions and listened to her responses. But I never asked one question. If I had taken the time to build a relationship, I could have learned what she loves about philanthropy, including which causes she enjoys supporting and why she supports them. If I had done all of this (or any of this), I would have learned she invests nearly 100% of her charitable dollars into only two causes that she feels personally strongly about. End of story.

So whether you want to build a killer rolodex to raise money for an important cause or to propel your business to the next level, there’s no quick fix in building relationships. It takes time and a willingness to listen and learn.

What relationship-building mistakes have you made in business? Care to share? I’m listening.

Cheyenne has created “Build a Killer Rolodex” for women with big business goals and a love for their communities. Her blog is inspired by women who choose to raise the bar and elevate those around them. Business advice, philanthropy guidance, developing a personal style, the joys (and woes) of travel, and unplugging are topics she enjoys. But most of all, she enjoys connecting with and learning from other women. You can find her in Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia. She is president of Femfessionals Philadelphia with nearly 1,000 members. www.cheyennepalma.com.

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