If you care about making the world a better place, have you thought about fundraising, and decided as an introvert the field is not for you? Think again. You’ve got amazing skills and we need you!
You might be thinking you can’t be a fundraiser because everyone buys into this stereotype that you have to be an extroverted, make-friends-easily kind of person. Someone who loves big events. Someone who loves meeting new people.
Nope, not true. I hate events, am shy about meeting new people, and have to expend a ton of energy when engaging with most people (even the ones I love most!). And yet, I’ve been a great fundraiser.
I didn’t always know this. For 25 years I thought I couldn’t possibly be a great fundraiser because of the above. I figured there was someone who could do whatever I did and all the other stuff as well. But guess what? That’s just not true! We all have our talents and we all have our challenges.
It took stepping back from full-time fundraising and non-profit management to have the time to really study fundraising – in particular the art and science of cultivating and soliciting larger gifts. With my former business partner, we developed the Asking Styles as a way to help people understand it takes all types to fundraise.
In the process, I was finally able to validate myself. And, while I certainly wish it hadn’t taken all these years, at least I can use my more recent knowledge to help others – including you – understand how great your skills are.
Extroverts can be the life of the party, and boy do we need them for our special events. However, the big, consistent money is in major and planned gifts, and those gifts only come about by building one-on-one relationships over time. No one makes their largest gift the first time they give. That comes after years of cultivating. Years of building trust. And that trust comes from the deep, sometimes intimate, one-on-one conversations with our donors.
Here’s where you, my fellow introvert, come in. For we excel at the art of conversation. We have the patience to ask questions and learn over time and, in the moment, sit silently and listen to our donors talk. That ability to listen and learn is key to fundraising.
Where does this amazing skill come from? It’s pure science. Introverts have longer neural pathways. We naturally think more deeply, and harness much more internal memory to develop our thoughts. That’s why it takes us longer for us to speak (ideally). We think to talk whereas extroverts talk to think. This has two benefits.
First, in the silence while we’re thinking and formulating questions, we give space for our donors to speak. Imagine how important this would be for donors who are our fellow introverts. They need that time themselves.
Second, in taking the time to think and in formulating a richer question, we are likely to learn more. We are more likely to get our donors to open up and share their thoughts on philanthropy, life, and how they view our organization.
Nothing, and I truly mean nothing, is an important as the ability to listen, ask questions, and build relationships. That, my fellow introverts, is our superpower.
So come use that superpower to make the world a better place. We need passionate people who want to help us build donor relationships that lead to amazing gifts that empower our programs to have the biggest impact. We need you.