Empathy vs. Perspective… Which One is Better?

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

empathyEmpathy helps you understand what a prospective donor is feeling. 
Perspective helps you understand why they are feeling it.

Which one do you need in order to be a successful fundraiser?

Empathy keeps relationships on track.
Empathy helps you remember that your supporter lives on the west coast while you are on Eastern time. Thanks to your empathy you’ll avoid calling her when you first get to the office at 8 am (5 am for her). In that case empathy is a very good thing to have.

Perspective is more intellectual.
With perspective you can understand your supporters’ viewpoints, needs, desires, goals and aspirations. If the need is urgent and you know that the supporter has been waiting for an opportunity to fund (for example) an airlift to rescue dozens of refugees in a far off land, then you will call and awaken her at 5 am. Your perspective assures you that the donor will be happy you did.

What do you think? Is one better than the other?


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Michael J. Rosen, CFRE

Greg, you’ve asked, “Empathy v. Perspective … Which one is better?” It’s either a trick question or a silly one. In your post, you answered it appropriately: “Both.” At times, one might be more important than the other. However, both qualities (or are they skills?) are essential to successful fundraising.

Greg Warner
7 years ago

Thanks Michael. Actually it is neither a trick question nor a silly one. Rather, it’s rhetorical.
Yep. We agree again! Both!!

Theresa Nagle
Theresa Nagle
7 years ago

Both are essential! One without the other won’t get you where you want to be — in their hearts and in their minds and plans!!

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