A stellar fundraising professional can help take a nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts to the next level, but not everyone has the necessary attributes to be a highly successful fundraiser.
Qualifications and training are a big part of the story. Still, it’s also essential to assess whether a potential candidate has the relevant qualities and characteristics to excel at fundraising and take on the unique challenges that your organization faces. This is particularly important if you don’t have the budget to hire an experienced fundraising pro and need to take a gamble on someone less experienced.
What Makes a Great Fundraising Professional?
When you’re looking to hire a fundraising professional to join your organization, skills, qualifications, and previous experience will be important. Alongside this, a great candidate will also demonstrate a range of qualities and personality traits that help them to succeed with fundraising.
In no particular order, you’ll also want fundraising candidates to display as many of these attributes as possible.
Here are some top fundraising skills every professional should have:
- Great Interpersonal Skills
- Commitment to the Cause
- Being Adaptable
- Ability to Tell Compelling Stories
- Ability to Research Donors In Depth
- Ability to Motivate Others
- Creative Thinking
1. Great Interpersonal Skills
Building a good rapport with potential donors can make them more likely to contribute to your cause. This is particularly important for face-to-face fundraising, but it’s also a key skill for online fundraising campaigns and telephone fundraising.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills can help create and maintain effective relationships with donors. Ideally, they’ll be persuasive and assertive but without being overly pushy or aggressive in their approach.
Excellent communication skills can also motivate other members of the team and help build a passionate and committed fundraising team.
Strong written and oral communication skills are also vital, and depending on their role, your fundraisers may need to write effective grant applications, appeal letters, and sponsorship pitches, for example.
Pro tip: Listening can be a very underrated part of communication skills, especially when it comes to donor needs. Since there can be many different reasons as to what motivates donors to give, listening to them can help highlight their specific objections and boost the number of donations you receive.
2. Commitment to the Cause
When a fundraiser is truly passionate about the cause they’re raising funds for, it shines through in their work. It can also be highly inspiring for donors and other members of your fundraising team.
No matter how creative your fundraising campaigns are, you may not always see donations rolling in. A successful fundraising professional can immediately go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas to raise funds.
Every fundraising professional will be rejected by donors to some degree. Being able to put it aside and not become disillusioned or demotivated after getting a “no” can be difficult, but a fundraiser with perseverance will go after the next “yes” instead.
Perseverance can be particularly important for certain types of fundraising, especially when they are not a quick way to bring in funds.
Major gifts are an element of fundraising that can require a lot of hard work and determination to pull off. Since it often requires your organization to build a long-term relationship with major donors, perseverance is a crucial quality for a fundraising professional who will be pursuing this type of fundraising activity.
Pro tip: Fundraising professionals who frequently set goals are more likely to demonstrate perseverance since they’re less likely to become unmotivated when they’re faced with challenges and setbacks.
All professional fundraisers are expected to have a good understanding of fundraising ethics and to adhere to codes of conduct, but integrity can go far beyond this.
Putting donor interests at the forefront is another important element of this quality. Having a professional fundraiser with lots of integrity helps motivate donors and keep them close to your cause since they can trust that you’re not solely interested in the “ask” and securing the donation if it isn’t right for a particular donor.
6. Being Adaptable
The nonprofit sector frequently changes, along with best practices in fundraising. To stay on top of this, fundraising professionals must be versatile and innovative. This helps your organization to respond to fundraising trends and meet the changing needs of potential donors.
Knowing how to respond when situations don’t play out as expected is another great quality. Donors won’t always behave as you anticipated, and even the most creative campaigns can sometimes fall flat. Learning from the results and taking steps to get a different outcome next time means your organization can keep on being innovative, even after setbacks.
7. Ability to Tell Compelling Stories
Storytelling is a vital element of fundraising, but it’s not always easy to deliver the right message to the right donors at the right time. Compelling stories can appeal to your donors on an emotional level, which can make them more likely to give.
8. Ability to Research Donors In Depth
Approaching donors with the right message is a key part of successful fundraising, and being able to perform in-depth research to understand your supporter base makes that a lot easier to achieve.
Pro tip: Using donation software such as Donorbox to learn more about donors, and personalize communication with them can help maximize donations. Your organization can learn more about the specific giving patterns of particular donors and use this to tailor your donor communications. Digging deep into what makes donors tick can help take your organization’s fundraising efforts up several notches and can regain lapsed donors too.
9. Ability to Motivate Others
Donor rejection can be demoralizing, but successful fundraising professionals can motivate their team to feel confident and enthusiastic — even if fundraising activities don’t always go to plan.
10. Creative Thinking
Adding plenty of creativity to fundraising campaigns can help keep donors engaged.
This may involve injecting some light-hearted and fun elements into some of your donor communications to help supporters feel loyal to your organization and motivated to donate later on, for example.
Creative thinking can also help counteract mid-campaign slumps in donations and engagement. Switching things up and trying a different approach to inspiring donors can keep donations flowing throughout fundraising campaigns.
Over to You
Adding a top-notch fundraising professional to your team can make a big difference in helping your organization to grow and deliver more services in line with your mission.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to recruit the right person to make this happen, and often, you’ll need to assess whether they have the right qualities and attributes — especially if you’re not in a position to hire a seasoned fundraiser with lots of experience.
Hiring a fundraising professional with these ten qualities can help your nonprofit to deliver creative, unique, and engaging campaigns that resonate with donors and help you to respond to the changing needs of your supporters.
Here at Donorbox, we’re helping over 35,000 organizations to raise funds and engage more donors through our donation platform.