Fundraising lessons from Enzo

November 13, 2012

Enzo, the shepherd-poodle-terrier mix hero/narrator of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, believes that “When a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next incarnation will be as a man.” He knows this from a documentary he saw on TV about Mongolia.

As the book opens, Enzo is old and not far from death.  He narrates a story that will make you laugh, and make you cry, and make you laugh again.  And we’re left with no doubt that Enzo will be as remarkable a man as he was a dog.

And that he’d be one heck of a good fundraiser.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well. I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.

People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like being a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street. For instance, if we met at a party and I wanted to tell you a story about the time I needed to get a soccer ball in my neighbor’s yard but his dog chased me and I had to jump into a swimming pool to escape, and I began telling the story, you, hearing the words “soccer” and “neighbor” in the same sentence, might interrupt and mention that your childhood neighbor was Pele, the famous soccer player, and I might be courteous and say, Didn’t he play for the Cosmos of New York? Did you grow up in New York? And you might reply that, no, you grew up in Brazil on the streets of Tres Coracoes with Pele, and I might say, I thought you were from Tennessee, and you might say not originally, and then go on to outline your genealogy at length. So my initial conversational gambit – that I had a funny story about being chased by my neighbor’s dog – would be totally lost, and only because you had to tell me all about Pele.

Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.”

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