The 10 essential qualities of a great fundraiser….

I once saw a job description for a fundraiser that was 7 pages long. The only thing they didn’t want to know in the person spec was their DNA.

Pages of specifics are not what’s required to find a great fundraiser. In the map we think we build for ourselves of roles, tasks, descriptions, specifications, must have’s and desirables its easy to get lost in what really matters. Some of us need the comfort of a checklist. Others find the flush of instinct and the flutter of your heart is all that’s needed. We wrestle with the experienced but frankly wrong candidate , the inexperienced and still wrong candidate and the bright spark of hope,  with no experience but all the potential. When we look at them do we see the example we want to see, the moment of warmth yet determination, the getting it bit, the confidence they can run and walk and stop when they need to and to move something on, to not just deliver but exceed?. Do we see the conscientious individual – able to wash up at the end of the evening rather than leave someone else with the mess? Some will score on the list. Some will score in the heart. Some will score in both.

Take a step back and secretly write down this list. If you are looking for a great fundraiser do you see these qualities? Some or all? A good mix maybe? The potential? The core that fits your team and the talent you can build with. And if you are a fundraiser or want to be, do you see these qualities in you? How would you make them shine?

So here are my 10 essential qualities of a great fundraiser…

  1. An inspirer– understands, harnesses and uses passion, connected to the cause, has a vision and a light
  2. An artist – sees the role and themselves as art, a beautiful thing, crafted and enjoyed
  3. An organiser – of themselves and others and gets things done, plans, see ahead, in front and behind, on time , records stuff that matters
  4. An interpreter – translates needs, desires and language to make things possible, hears more than speaks
  5. A connector – brings people together, finds networks, connections, openings, opportunities
  6. A story-teller – captivating others with the art of telling and listening to stories, collects them, writes them, speaks them
  7. A critic – curious, able to question, analyse, enquire, improve and refine
  8. A coach – helps make people and things better, helps others and themselves
  9. A collaborator – a team member, a gang member, a player, adds to the power of being together
  10. A builder – practical, does the job, like to roll their sleeves up , then take a step back, lean on the shovel and smile with pride

It’s a simple list. It’s not rocket science. It’s not DNA. Its human.

  1. Rob said:

    Another great blog, Stephen. If I were to rank these, I’d put ‘collaborator’ near the top of the list. An ability to work with others, an ability to open previously shut doors and an ability to bring people together with different opinions. The so-called ‘softer skills’ aren’t easily visible on a person’s cv. But people deal with people. Simple as that. And no matter what university or work experience you’ve got, if you can’t connect with others, you’ll never get the chance to inspire or tell your story.


  2. All great points Stephen and they link nicely to some thoughts shared by Ken Burnett and myself last year on the make-up of the ideal fundraising team. In fact it’s uncanny how close our views are… I’m hoping that’s because there’s a lot of common sense invested in them.

    Ken’s original blog

    and my comments

    Thanks for sharing your ideas.


    • Thanks for this Kevin….absolutely in the same place and I love this list from you and Ken….especially the silo buster….how true…! Will add your blog to my blog roll…all the best…


  3. Lora said:

    Thoughtful! This helps people who think they might not make a good volunteer.


  4. Roberta said:

    Great tips on what make a great fundraiser. I am sharing this on Pinterest


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