Navigating Different (but not necessarily difficult) Fundraising Personalities

June 16, 2023

We have all had occasion to work with a myriad of different folks from different walks of life. Everybody brings their own experience into the shared collective as a team. This hopefully makes the team stronger. What are the various fundraising personality types out there, anyway?

A Comparison

I came across this table in my files, though for the life of me I do not know where it came from (I made it more bucolic than I originally found it). There are indeed different fundraising personalities out there, but knowing what people aspire to as well as what their Achilles’ heel is can go a long way in ensuring that the office is as productive (and happy) as can be. I would suggest that you do not want three team members that are carbon copies of each other. Rather, you want a team that compliments one another. One that ensures that there is a great breadth in approach.

While this table may be a quick glance at some archetypes, it may be simplistic and perhaps even outdated. The days of (not so) benevolent dictators are far behind us. Lynne Wester often refers to these folks aptly as dinosaurs. I have used that exact phrase to describe some people that I have come across and their leadership style. It is a heavy-handed approach that really doesn’t resonate well with today’s workplace.

The Team player is really the younger (than my) generation. They grew up always doing group projects in school. (I received grades as an individual and had fewer group projects than my two sons have today.) It is this voice that is your sounding board. A sense of belonging and affiliation is what will resonate with donors and that long-term relationship will serve both the donor and organization well over the years. I wrote about that here.

The Questioner needs constant check ins. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but supervisors need to be made aware that constant feedback is required. I am a strong advocate of giving constructive feedback whenever possible, but this teammate may require more than most.

Brain Saber, of Asking Matters, has a webpage where you can look at your fundraising personality by taking a quiz. There, they look at four main styles of personalities: Rainmaker, Go-Getter, Kindred Spirit, and Mission Controller. You can overlay these four styles on the table above. They predicate your fundraising personality on whether you are an introvert or an extravert and whether you are analytic or intuitive.

Fundraising Personalities & The Extrovert Fallacy

So many people (wrongly) believe that extroverts make better fundraisers. It’s a myth! There’s a great article in the Washington Post that says “a meta-analysis of 35 studies of nearly 4,000 salespeople, found that the correlation between extroversion and sales performance was essentially zero (0.07, to be exact).” This article says it is not the extroverts or introverts who are the most successful. It is the ambiverts (those that possess both introvert and extrovert qualities).

Self awareness is key to success. Knowing your strengths and challenges is the first step. You can always do the Myers-Brigg assessment as a starting block and go from there. But I would suggest that everyone is somewhere between introvert and extrovert. Nobody is 100% one or the other. All of us, by definition, are ambiverts but lean one way or the other.

Everybody has their own distinct personality based on life experiences. I have seen some folks shift their personalities, truly coming out of their shell (which took a lot of personal work). I would say that the most successful folks actually shift their personalities as opposed to “only shift it during working hours”. Self reflection is key. If changed actions are only for show, eventually the “snow will melt and the dirt will show”.

Until next week.