Seek to Better Understand Your Fundraising Traits and Personality
Throughout the last month, I was with a mentee of mine—a young staff member—and a colleague in the field. As all of us talked shop, a common theme was evolving from these conversations. The theme was that we are all different and so are our donors. My staff member recently took a class on fundraising. In this class, individuals took various personality tests. The mentee wondered why she could relate to a certain age group of prospects and donors better than another donor segment.
My colleague brought up the fact that he traded prospects with others on his staff due to perceived personality conflicts. I was told recently that a volunteer enjoyed working with another staff member rather than me. As a professional, I wondered what I did to the volunteer until I realized it must have been a perception of chemistry between us.
This topic is a very interesting one to research. On Dec. 2, 2014, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) noted that three characteristics make up a good fundraiser: passion, authenticity and integrity.
Specifically, passion for your program, armed with facts delivered with energy and authenticity in the sense of really being who you are, and integrity, which is a commitment to honesty, is essential. Donors want fundraising professionals who are real and have the drive to represent themselves and their organization in a positive and transparent way.
Alyce Lee Stansbury noted that the following traits are very important:
- Ability to listen: Let donors talk themselves into giving to your organization.
- Enthusiasm and passion: Donors will notice quickly if you aren’t passionate about your mission.
- Attention to Detail: This includes spelling names correctly and knowledge of minor details.
- Good writing skills: Ability to convey to others the story of the cause.
- Planning and budgeting: Establish a plan and work the plan to success.
- Commitment to the job: Giving 100 percent to the job and all it entails.
- Ability to ask for gifts: At the end of the day that is what it is all about.
The top 10 qualities of a successful fundraiser from the book “Fundraising as a Career: What, Are You Crazy?” are:
- Impeccable integrity: Support the AFP code of ethics.
- Good listener: Take a class in communications and learn this skill.
- Ability to motivate: Place the donors interest first and foremost.
- Hard worker: Understand this is not a nine-to-five job.
- Concern for people: Understand the term empathy and have concern for everyone.
- High expectations: Have high expectations for yourself and those around you.
- Love the work: Take the time to also volunteer for a cause for which you have passion.
- High energy: Strive to stay in shape to handle the demands and expectations of the job.
- Perseverance: Start setting goals and benchmarks to measure success.
- Presence: Act like a professional and walk the walk.
In an article titled “The ‘Must’ Qualities of Your Next Development Professional Hire,” four things to look for across the board when hiring the next development professional are the characteristics of relationship-driven people because people give to people; cool-headed people because relationships have road bumps; resilient people, as you need to roll with the flow; and adaptable people, so you can adjust to what prospects and donors want.
If you are interested in learning about your fundraising personality type, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy is partnering with TypeCoach to help you better relate to donors and colleagues through a personality analysis survey.
In summary, you must understand you have a unique personality and traits. Like dating, everyone is different and all of us relate differently to the staff, volunteers, prospects, donors and others we meet. Some will connect to us and some will not connect to us. In all cases, you need to be professional, honest, ethical, institutionally driven, have high expectations and persevere. Always be yourself and care about others. Our profession is very demanding and complex. Be flexible for change and understand the moving parts. Embrace diversity and understand systems. Take the time to better understand yourself and perceptions of you. Your core will remain the same through the years but strive to improve yourself. Both you and your organization will benefit from this activity.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.