Must Have Skills for Rock Star Fundraising Success

by Marcy Heim on June 16, 2017

June 14 header

Do you have these fundraising success traits?  Some things you just have to “be” instead of “know.”

Here are 8 Personal ‘Must Have’ Skills for Rock Star Development Success

1. A Healthy Ego

A healthy ego – that is – a mind that directs its thinking – gives us the ability to withstand the many “no’s” we get along the way to our many “yes’s”.  It allows us to review “no’s” and profit from the analysis. Perhaps we might better tell our story or manage our time to better engage more folks. Or, we might cast off our fear of “rejection” and the time wasted on the “drama de jour.” It also lets us buy-in to our unique place in the process – one that has us sharing or totally giving away “credit” to a volunteer or leader for a job we have actually done well. In fact, doing it well means others felt THEY did it!

2. Passion for your organization’s work

In his leadership Ted Talk, Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”  I believe this means that donors don’t GIVE to WHAT you do, they GIVE because of WHY you do it.   When we lead our relationship building with our sincere passion to share why we do what we do, instead of our numbers and needs, we create lifelong donor relationship success.

3. People Orientation

You need to sincerely like people – talking with, and learning about, other people. Not in a snoopy way and not only because they have something you want (money, influence, connections) but because you genuinely want a win-win relationship with the other person. You need to be a likable person – fun, pleasant, positive, polite.

4. Goal Orientation

While a people-orientation is critical, you must also have a passion to accomplish goals driven by your beliefs. Taking responsibility for a certain level of activity – visits, phone calls, letters, etc. – each month leads to success.  You can control activity, goals, and success. You can’t control someone being ready to say “yes” to your request. We know activity leads to giving success. So embrace this. I often encourage hiring another admin before another fundraiser so that current fundraisers can devote maximum time to the relationship and someone else can do the data entry and follow-up pieces as much as possible.

5. Empathy

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with her heart, seeing with her eyes. Empathy is hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. We need this at two levels. As a major donor, how does it feel to be “liked” and paid attention to ONLY because you have money, connections, or influence others want? Are you dropped like a hot potato if your fortune turns?

As the “user” of your services, how does it feel to be a struggling student, addict, homeless person, abused person, sick person, struggling leader, or hungry person? Also, How does it feel to be a well-performing student, drug-free, sheltered, out of harm, healthy, strong, and fed?

Feel this without getting dramatic. Don’t take on your victim’s victim mentality.

6. Resilience

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness or the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. My coach, T Harv Eker, says it’s not the size of the problem; it’s the size of you. Think about things that totally threw you at one time and later you wondered why it was such a big deal. Exchange the dramatic overwhelm with vigor to generate possible solutions and seek advice from others (like donors) to help create “wins” from any perceived evil.  Just keep going.

7. Aggressive patience

It’s the giver’s timeline, not ours. Your campaign timeline, operations needs or annual goal, while urgent to you, may not coincide with your donor’s giving timeline. We must be aggressive in continuing to reach out, insert urgency, tell our story one more time or a bit differently, try a different partner, or whatever helps continue the conversation and the journey with our major givers….on their timeline.

8. Creativity

You may not realize this, but creativity is really about self-care. It is rest, food, family, space, exercise, quiet – whatever renews YOUR spirit so it can soar in a vibrant way for the joy of others. When events drain us, metrics overwhelm us, lost grants defeat us, and schedules exhaust us, it’s our cue to re-prioritize our work and life and narrow our focus. What aren’t we going to do so that our marvelous God-given brains can WOW in our world – for ourselves, our families and our donors?

So our take-away from this list?

You must earn the right to ask. Your givers have the right to enjoy their giving. People care about what you do, but give because of why you do it.

Thank you for being the GREAT PERSON you are and allowing me to stretch you a tiny bit more!

Invest in Joy!

Marcy sign

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