Skills Pivotal to Becoming a Successful Fundraiser
Everyone’s used to seeing fundraisers. Whether you’re watching an ad encouraging you to contribute to a text-to-give campaign, being asked to support an exciting new startup, or joining a rock-a-thon at a church, a wide variety of fundraisers are common these days.
The end product itself often looks fun, exciting, and simple. However, the effort and cost that are required to pull off a successful fundraising event are anything but easy. Even something as seemingly straightforward as starting a GoFundMe can take quite a bit of knowledge to set up — especially if you want it to be successful.
If you already are or soon will be in the fundraising game, here are a few of the critical skills you’re going to need to have in order to stoke donors’ emotions, stir up their passions, and get those donations rolling in.
Creativity is one of the number one essential to good fundraising. If you lack creativity, you will struggle to find ways to appeal to donors — it’s as simple as that.
It takes a creative mind to put together an attractive crowdfunding pitch for a startup that is hunting for cash. If you’re trying to raise money to dig wells in poor communities in a Third World country, a healthy infusion of imagination is required in order to communicate your vision to the millions of potential donors who have never heard of you.
Even a local organization like a food pantry needs a regular stream of creative inspiration in order to stay relevant and avoid being marginalized or even forgotten within their own community. No matter what the cause, creativity is a key ingredient of a successful fundraiser.
Leadership is one of those transferable skills that can serve you well in all walks of life — including fundraising. There’s no shortage of needs in the world, and the power of modern phenomena like social media and the 24-hour news cycle ensure that everyone is aware of the pain and suffering that surrounds us.
While awareness is a well-saturated market at this point, though, there is a paucity of willing individuals who possess the leadership skills required to champion a cause.
Supporters, donors, and volunteers are quite easy to find. However, it’s often difficult identifying an individual who is able to bring them all together. A true leader can bring a strong sense of mission, formalize a vision, organize efforts, direct funds, and lead the overall charge for a cause. This ability to organize, inspire, and lead others is a key to fundraising victory.
The soft skill of being relatable is an invaluable aid in the fundraising world.
Rather than simply appealing to potential donors’ emotions based on your own fundraising story, focusing on relatability allows you to make sure that each fundraiser you run is uniquely tailored to the crowd you’ll be engaging with.
The ability to research and learn about the individuals you’re going to solicit funds from allows you to form a deeper understanding of their own thoughts, opinions, and interests. This enables you to approach them on their terms.
For instance, say you’re trying to run a fundraiser in a local community. Since it’s an entire community, you’re going to need to find a way to appeal to all ages, genders, lifestyles, and interests. There’s no magic formula that will instantly attract everyone, but there are certainly some fundraising options that will be more universally appealing than others.
If you opt for a rock concert, you’re likely going to alienate many of your older donors. Something like a bowling event, on the other hand, could have a much broader appeal. Families with younger children can attend, seniors can participate, and teenagers and young adults can still benefit from the competition and health benefits that the sport offers.
A good fundraiser isn’t just going to simply study their fundraising audience like a science experiment. They’re also going to make sure they know how to engage with them.
Proper manners are obviously important here as no one is going to want to donate to a cause when they’re approached in a rude or inappropriate manner.
However, basic manners are just the beginning. A good fundraiser should also be socially aware at all times. What manners, dress codes, or behaviors are acceptable in each scenario? If you’re going to attempt to raise funds from a church congregation, for example, make sure you know the dress code before you attend a service.
Whatever the situation, a wise fundraiser will tailor their appearance, style, and approach to fit the audience they’re appealing to.
Fundraising can be complicated, and it usually is. Even something as simple as a GoFundMe campaign requires:
- Setting up an online account.
- Creating an event.
- Filling in all of the event’s information and other minutiae.
- Marketing the event.
- Setting up a bank account to withdraw the funds.
- Allocating the funds to their intended use.
And that’s just a GoFundMe. Putting on full-scale events requires 10 times the effort. If you lack the ability to stay organized as you go along, you’re going to get overwhelmed in no time.
In the same way that an organized teacher must set ground rules and plan their time wisely, a good fundraiser should make sure to have a structure in place and set up a schedule. Take the time to plan out your fundraiser, delegate tasks, and make sure that every important or timely event makes it onto your calendar or day planner.
Creating a solid team isn’t just a goal of a marketing department or a new startup company. It applies to fundraising as well. A successful fundraiser is always backed by a team who is unified, supportive, and on the same page.
Good team building requires the ability to identify skill sets and make sure that everyone is working where they can have the greatest effect. A good team builder also takes the time to actively listen to their staff and make sure that they maintain healthy relationships as they work together.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Learn more about emotional intelligence and how to effectively manage personal relationships at home, at work and socially.
Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their interpersonal skills and are full of easy-to-follow, practical information.
There are many skills that go into pulling off a good fundraiser. Leadership, team building, creativity, etiquette, relatability, and organization are all key elements to fundraising success.
While it’s helpful to have all of these at your disposal from the get-go, it’s also important to continue to develop them over time. The ongoing effort will serve to sharpen your fundraising abilities and make it easier to find success in every event that you run.
About the Author
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book.