Relationships, Relationships, Relationships. That is the driver of philanthropy. For those relationships to be transformational, not merely transactional requires a degree of listening that most people are unfamiliar or simply uncomfortable with. When I was a director of programs at a regional association of grantmakers, I was responsible for grantmaker education and in that role never met a practitioner who disagreed with this statement: “a critical component of a program officer’s job and a key to their success is good listening skills.” Of course, finding people who actually had such skills was shockingly difficult. The good news is that once people took their professional development seriously they were willing to work on their listening skills.
Listening is going to be my modus operandi at the COF Summit next month. Rather than filling up space with words (with the notable exception of this blog), I will be there to listen to the sounds of $2,500 people gathering in the name of philanthropy. I will do my best to listen well and then to share with you what I am hearing.