When people think of a talented fundraising professional, many immediately imagine a gregarious outgoing personality with the gift of the gab—but not so fast.
Introverts have their merits, too.
The past few years I have been sharing and reflecting on being an introvert and how it contributes to my fundraising success. As a consultant with Blue Sky Philanthropy, I have had the pleasure of working with many fundraisers. I know that those who count themselves as introverted bring a special set of skills to every table.
For me, being an introvert simply means you gather, regain, or recharge your energy in a different way than extroverts do.
The “Extrovert Ideal” has long been unfairly favoured in the fundraising profession. It shows up in the recruitment process, in perceptions of performance, and in the very words we use to describe successful fundraisers.
But what if we have it all wrong?
While it sounds counter-intuitive, introvert strengths make us some of the highest performing fundraisers and nonprofit leaders—especially when it comes to working with major donors.
Here are just a few of the reasons introverts naturally excel at major gifts:1. Introverts Shine When Working One-on-One
Building meaningful relationships with donors is at the heart of all successful major gift fundraising.
When it comes to working one-on-one with donors, introverts are superstars.
Introverts tend to have a knack for active listening. This allows us to be highly effective when working with donors to uncover their passions, discovering more about their philanthropic interests, and helping them achieve the change they want to see in the world.
These listening and observation skills help us ask key strategic questions while knowing exactly how to guide the conversation so we form a clear picture of the donor’s intention
Our observant nature also loans itself well to working one-on-one in other ways. We pick up on subtle, unspoken cues, including body language and facial expression. This helps us build trust and effectively navigate sensitive conversations.2. Deep Focus and Concentration Are Our Fortes
The aptitude to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task is a skill that’s becoming increasingly rare.
This is great news for introverts. Deep concentration and focus are two of our core strengths.
We can laser focus attention on one donor in a crowded room or concentrate for several hours on writing that important proposal. These skills make us stand out as valuable fundraisers.
As an introvert, I can readily focus closely on one donor and make them feel like they're the only person in the room.3. Introverts Create Irresistible Giving Opportunities for Major Donors
Introverts tend to be less prone to chasing FSOs (Fundraising Shiny Objects) than more extroverted colleagues, who may gravitate towards the stimulation of variety and new ideas.
At the same time, our ability to plan and think strategically does not mean we’re rigid thinkers. Introverts often have an active imagination and strong creative streak. By taking smart risks, we are ideal innovators.
We’re particularly savvy at using these skills to create irresistible giving opportunities for major donors. Our ability to build meaningful relationships and out-of-the-box thinking are both tremendous assets when it comes to the art of crafting truly thoughtful asks.Play to Your Strengths
When you put these three introvert skills together, they can be powerful tools to authentically connect with donors.
Are you an introvert like me? Well, maybe it’s high time to embrace your introvert superpowers.
Your strengths mean you’re naturally suited to raising more five, six, and even seven-figure gifts for your mission!About the Author
Emma Lewzey has been a CFRE since 2009.