I have a secret to share with you readers — fundraising isn’t that difficult to execute. Don’t tell my employer! The technical skills that are needed can be taught — how to run an event, how to write a case, etc. What cannot be taught is attitude — you either have it or you don’t.
I think the graphic above truly points out what is now very evident to me. I have had the great honor of working with some absolutely amazing individuals over the years — and not coincidentally, their work ethic and values closely align with my own.
I don’t believe that an individual can be taught to be a “people person” — it must be inherent. Is the individual mindful? Do they have a keen altruistic sense of helping make the world a better place? People are given two ears and one mouth — do they listen twice as much as they speak?
The fundraising superstars that I have come across in my professional life were not superstars because they know the intricacies of Graduated Rate Estates or creating a LYBUNT list. Rather they were superstars by the nature of their interaction with people — be it donors, prospects or colleagues. They all shared a common genuine willingness to help and be helped. Technical skills are much easier to acquire than are people skills.
When employees are fired, it is rarely for aptitudenal reasons, (they must’ve had the skills in order to be hired in the first place, right?) rather they are dismissed for attitudinal reasons like poor motivation, bad attitude and being un-coachable. (No hospital hires unqualified surgeons.)
While the technical skillset is something that is required of a good fundraiser, one must remember that most people don’t enter the fundraising world as their primary profession (present company excluded, of course). How many people find fundraising as a second (or third) career? The reason that they (for the most part) are entering the world of fundraising is because they are people persons. Their attitude is what will ultimately help them succeed.