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Top 5 Traits of a Kick A** Fundraiser

Last week was a marathon of board trainings, fundraising strategy sessions and a boatload of individual nonprofit therapy sessions that all seemed to have one general theme: navigating different personality traits within the leadership team.

From board members who bring baggage from home and air that laundry in disruptive ways during meetings in the form of overt negativity, to new team members who can’t quite embrace the way “things have always been done” and challenge the status quo, it seems that nearly everyone is having challenges with balancing tolerating traits we don’t jive with in order to get crap done.

Listen, I get it.

But? The more we work with boards on how to develop fundraising strategies that don’t drive a person crazy with more work, the more we’re finding what traits work best to raise the most, stress the least and motivate all.

We're certainly not going to keep this information of unlocking your great potential to ourselves! When building your team to raise more money to do more good – here are the 5 Traits of a Kick Ass Fundraiser that we’ve found to make your nonprofit awesome!

1. Curiosity

Curiosity may have un-lived the cat – but it’s critical to fundraising success.

Great fundraisers are naturally curious. They have a hunger for knowledge and a desire to understand the world around them. They ask questions, listen intently, and seek to understand the needs and desires of potential donors. By being curious, fundraisers can uncover what motivates people to give, and use that information to create personalized appeals that resonate with their audience.

Curiosity is incredibly powerful as it helps fundraisers to see things from the donor's perspective and to understand their motivations. It enables fundraisers to identify new opportunities, develop innovative strategies, and stay ahead of the competition.

At the heart of all of it? A willingness to ask interesting questions. Great fundraisers know that the best way to understand their donors is to ask open-ended and unique questions that encourage donors to share their thoughts and feelings. They listen carefully to the answers and use that information to create personalized appeals that resonate with their audience.

Curiosity also thrives on looking for new information. The best fundraisers read books and articles, attend conferences and seminars, and seek out new ideas and perspectives. They are constantly learning and growing, and they use that knowledge to improve their fundraising strategies and tactics.

Need yet another reason to be curious? The ability to see things from multiple perspectives. Great fundraisers are able to put themselves in the donor's shoes and understand their perspective. They are able to see the world through the donor's eyes and to understand their needs and desires. This enables them to create personalized appeals that speak directly to the donor's interests and motivations.

Curiosity also helps fundraisers to identify new opportunities like spotting trends and patterns that others may overlook. They are able to identify new donor segments, develop new fundraising channels, and create new programs and initiatives.

Finally, this trait of curiosity is essential for staying ahead of the competition. The best fundraisers I know understand the solicitation landscape is constantly changing, and they need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. By being curious, fundraisers can stay ahead of the curve and develop innovative strategies that set them apart from their competitors.

2. Self-Awareness

The community leader you are having coffee with, might not be a good fit for your mission. And that’s ok.

It’s REALLY ok that you know that and see that too.

Fundraisers are the face of an organization. They are the ones who build relationships with donors, create fundraising strategies, and tell the stories of impact that inspire giving. To be successful, fundraisers need to be self-aware. They must understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to work on improving their skills. Fundraisers who are self-aware can build stronger relationships with donors by being authentic, transparent, and open to feedback.

Self-awareness is the ability to understand one's own thoughts, feelings, and motivations. It is a crucial attribute for fundraisers because it enables them to be authentic and genuine in their interactions with donors. When fundraisers are self-aware, they are able to communicate their organization's mission and impact with sincerity and conviction.

Know what you are good at, and more importantly, what you are not great at? Good. This enables you to develop skills and to work on in areas where you may need improvement. For example, do you struggle with public speaking? Easy peasy - work on improving your presentation skills to communicate effectively with donors.

In addition to understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, self-aware fundraisers are open to feedback. They actively seek out input from their colleagues, donors, and other stakeholders. They listen to feedback with an open mind and use it to improve their performance. By being open to feedback, fundraisers can build stronger relationships with donors and create more effective fundraising strategies.

Self-aware fundraisers are also transparent and authentic in their interactions with donors. They are honest about their organization's strengths and weaknesses, and they communicate openly about the impact of donors' contributions. By being transparent, fundraisers can build trust with donors and create stronger, more authentic relationships.

3. Enthusiasm

I was once told by a boss of mine that “enthusiasm isn’t enough to raise money.” Might not be the ONLY trait – but it’s probably one of the most important one dammit.

Enthusiasm is a powerful tool for fundraisers. When fundraisers are enthusiastic about their organization's mission, they are able to inspire others with their passion and energy. This enthusiasm is contagious and can create a sense of excitement and momentum around a cause.

It is more than just being excited about a cause. It is about believing in the organization's mission and being able to communicate that belief to others. Enthusiastic fundraisers are able to inspire donors, volunteers, and staff with their conviction and energy. They are able to create a sense of urgency around their cause, which can motivate others to take action.

Donors are more likely to give to organizations that they feel passionate about.

No donor is going to give a boatload of money if they are uninspired and bored about the work. So when fundraisers are able to communicate their own enthusiasm, they are more likely to inspire donors to get involved and to make a contribution. Enthusiastic fundraisers are also able to create a positive and uplifting atmosphere around fundraising events, which can make donors feel more connected to the cause and more motivated to give.

Enthusiasm also helps fundraisers to stay motivated and to overcome challenges. Fundraising is hard. It’s also occasionally the MOST discouraging task, but enthusiastic fundraisers are able to maintain their energy and focus even in the face of setbacks. This resilience is essential for successful fundraising, as it allows fundraisers to stay motivated and to continue to pursue their goals even when things are difficult.

4. Empathy

If we’re going to develop real and amazing relationships – guess what. We better learn to be empathetic.

Fundraisers HAVE TO connect with donors on a deeper level. This is where empathy comes in. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In fundraising, it means being able to put yourself in the shoes of your donors and to understand their perspectives, needs, and concerns.

Empathy is important in fundraising for several reasons. First, it helps fundraisers to build trust and rapport with donors. When donors feel that fundraisers understand them and their needs, they are more likely to feel comfortable and open up about their motivations for giving. This can help fundraisers to tailor their messages and appeals to better resonate with the donor's interests and values.

You know what makes this so powerful? It helps fundraisers to create meaningful connections with donors that go beyond the transactional and move to the transformative. Fundraisers who are empathetic are able to create a sense of shared purpose and common goals with their donors. They are able to communicate the impact of the donor's contribution and to show how it aligns with their own values and goals.

In addition, empathy can help fundraisers to better understand their donors' motivations for giving. Donors give for a variety of reasons, including personal experience, emotional connection, or a desire to make a difference in the world. By being empathetic, fundraisers can better understand these motivations and use them to create appeals that resonate with the donor's values and interests.

Finally, empathy helps fundraisers to navigate difficult conversations and situations. When donors are unhappy or dissatisfied with an organization or its programs, an empathetic fundraiser can listen actively, acknowledge their concerns, and work with them to find a resolution that meets their needs.

5. Audacity

Do I love big hairy audacious goals? Damn straight I do. Do donors like them? Absolutely.

It’s a trait that is attractive, interesting and exciting.

Fundraising is a competitive field. With so many organizations vying for donors' attention and support, it can be challenging to stand out and make an impact. Enter, Audacity. The willingness to take bold risks and think creatively about how to achieve your goals. In fundraising, it means being willing to try new approaches, experiment with different strategies, and take bold action to achieve your fundraising targets.

Audacity is important in fundraising for several reasons. First, it allows fundraisers to push the boundaries of what's possible. By taking risks and trying new things, fundraisers can break out of the status quo and find innovative solutions to fundraising challenges. This can help organizations to achieve breakthroughs and drive significant impact and change.

Second, audacity can help fundraisers to capture donors' attention. Big bold moves goals? That's sexy. Donors are inundated with appeals and messages from countless organizations. To cut through the noise and make an impact, fundraisers need to be audacious and creative in their approach. This might mean developing eye-catching campaigns or leveraging new technology to reach donors in innovative ways.

Finally, audacity can help fundraisers to build a culture of innovation and risk-taking within their organizations. When fundraisers are willing to take risks and try new things, they can inspire their donors, co-workers and board members to do the same.

Want to drive impact and change? Be audacious.

Sure there might be a million other traits out there that make a fantastic human even more amazing when it comes to telling stories or asking for gifts. But it would be hard pressed to not add one or all of these 5 to the list of those you want to encourage and lift up in your board, your leadership team, or in your volunteer corps.

Did we miss one!? What else do you think make for a great trait as a fundraiser!? Let us know in the comments and take a little time to reflect on this list to see how many of them you have!

Get after it this week!


1 Comment

You described me PERFECTLY. Thank you. These attributes are not weaknesses, if one takes a moment to understand them.

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