The heart of fundraising is a commitment to relationship-building and donor-centricity. But, what happens when putting the donor first puts your integrity at risk? Whether it’s a casual remark about religion or a political rant, we all find ourselves in conversations with donors where we’re in disagreement with their stance. These aren’t more serious situations that might involve sexual harassment or direct racism, though it’s important to understand when something moves beyond a difference of opinion and warrants internal escalation.

So, what do you do – nod in agreement and smile sheepishly, lose all patience and tell them how you really feel? How do you stay true to yourself while maintaining professionalism and moving the relationship forward? In this session, we’ll discuss how to integrate potential difficult conversations into your visit preparation and practice ways of steering uncomfortable situations into productive conversations that grow donor relationships without sacrificing your integrity.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Participants will determine when a situation becomes serious and warrants internal escalation.
2. Participants will discuss common difficult conversations and brainstorm ways to appropriately steer those conversations toward mission and vision.
3. Participants will discover how to effectively integrate dealing with difficult conversations into their visit preparation process.

Laurel McCombs

Senior Philanthropy Advisor

The Osborne Group

Laurel McCombs brings more than 18 years of experience in the non-profit sector and a passion for the role philanthropy can play in changing the world to her work as a consultant, partner, and trainer.

Laurel works closely with clients on a variety of topics, including donor retention, development operations, planning, donor management, board development and more. Clients include the National Minority AIDS Council, La Clinica de la Raza and the University of Missouri. In addition to well-received workshops at national conferences, such as Junior Achievement and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Laurel has presented at the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference, CASE-NAIS, AFP Congress, and several local development professional associations.

Laurel is a graduate of the University of Southern California and is an alumna of the American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy.  She lives in Portland, OR.