Fundraising Academy Blog

7 Skills Fundraising Professionals Need to Thrive in Their Roles

7 Skills Fundraising Professionals Need to Thrive in Their Roles
What is one of the most important skills emerging fundraising professionals need in order to be successful in their roles?

To help you succeed as a fundraising professional, we asked HR and recruiting professionals and business leaders this question for their insights. From networking with the right people to improving your sales skills, there are several skills you can improve to succeed in your role.

Here are seven skills to thrive in the fundraising profession:

  • Network With the Right People
  • Improve Your Sales Skills
  • Understanding the Financial Marketplace
  • Build Resilience
  • Create Personal Connections
  • Have the Right Appeal
  • Tell Your Story Effectively

Network With the Right People

As one starts their journey in the fundraising world, they need to have the correct networking skills. Emerging fundraising professionals need to know where to network and how to network with the right people. 

They should know what groups and organizations to join, where their audiences are, and how to talk to them. That is how they will be successful in their role.

- Olivia Young, Conscious Items

Improve Your Sales Skills

One of the most important skills emerging fundraising professionals need in order to be successful in their roles is sales skills. Fundraising is very similar to sales, and you need to be able to demonstrate the value of your organization to those that you are trying to raise money from. 

You need to be personable, relatable, and articulate the value of your organization to many different types of people. Having the sales skills to be able to persuade your clients to invest in your organization is critical to having success in a fundraising role.

Chris Gadek, AdQuick

Understand the Financial Marketplace

Understanding the financial climate is crucial to fundraising. Typically, charitable giving levels go up as the stock market rises. 

When donors see robust growth in their portfolios, they feel more secure in their wealth and are more likely to increase their donations. For this reason, non-profit fundraisers should educate themselves on understanding market trends to know the right time to approach big donors for a gift.

- Jared Pobre, Caldera + Lab

Build Resilience

Rejection is an inevitable part of the job, which is why the ability to persevere and keep going is an incredibly important skill for this job role. Only with an unbreakable resolve and cutthroat determination can you aim to be successful in this field. 

Rather than succumbing to demotivation and giving up, fundraising professionals need to be innovative and resilient in their approach and keep getting back up until they meet their goals.

- Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Create Personal Connections 

Fundraising is all about connecting with the people who give. This means not only understanding how they work but also learning what their needs are and meeting them in a way that will make an impact on both sides of things — from sending out letters or holding educational events. 

Engage donors through social media channels like Facebook Live broadcasts where you get feedback directly from those folks most invested in making this happen!

- Saskia Ketz, Mojomox

Have the Right Appeal

I am confident that smart fundraisers do more than merely send out appeal after appeal. They understand that the path to a donor's heart is paved with delight and surprise. So, instead of making each communication a serious request, they discover fun ways to encourage contributors and generate good emotional links with your business. 

Incorporating a sense of humor into your communications approach can go a long way toward increasing donor loyalty. Reach out to donors in unexpected ways that exceed their expectations. 

For example, consider launching a fun, creative email campaign, creating a Vine video to thank supporters, or simply contacting a donor on the phone. Consider it similar to gifting flowers to a loved one "just because." The element of surprise has the potential to increase your relationships tenfold.

- Gerrid Smith, Joy Organics

Tell Your Story Effectively

Championing a cause requires soft skills like storytelling to engage donors and communicate the importance of your work. Storytelling is a vital part of fundraising. A compelling story with a villain and a conflict captures attention and builds an emotional attachment with donors. 

When donors know in detail how their contributions will be making a difference, they feel empowered to become part of the story by taking action and contributing. Delivering just the right message at just the right time may encourage them to give even more.

- Summer Romasco, Ad Hoc Labs

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