We Are A People Business

| by Priscilla Bratcher

Recruiting nonprofit leaders, drafting strategic plans, creating campaign case statements, advising clients on fundraising. This is what we do at Armstrong McGuire. Each one of these, as well as the other services we provide to clients, is executed with a good plan and processes that reflect best practices in our industry.

But we're not all about plans and processes. We're actually in the people business.

This perspective has been rumbling around my brain lately, so I was struck when I read an article in the recent Chronicle of Philanthropy that debunked stereotypes of successful fundraisers exclusively as bubbly extroverts (term as defined by Meyers Briggs.) Yay, I thought! As a lifelong introvert I suddenly felt validated as not only adequate but successful in my chosen profession!

But beyond elevating introverts to a place of honor, the article really dealt with increases in fundraising success by nonprofits who thoughtfully match the personal style of their fundraisers to their major gift prospects. In other words, instead of dividing the work by gift range (Susie talks to prospects who are capable of up to $9,999; Bobby takes on those with potential for $10,000-25,000, etc.), sophisticated nonprofits are sending Susie and Bobby to develop philanthropic relationships with donors who are best suited to their individual styles.

I am not surprised that these institutions are enjoying significant increases in revenue because I have made this argument with colleagues for years. The article makes the point that the listening skill is the most important in successful fundraising. And isn't that true of all nonprofit endeavors? Whether recruiting key staff members, working as a team to envision a future within the structure of a strategic plan, or making group plans for fundraising success, we will only succeed if we work with others.

We are a people business. But we do tend to be a passionate group of folks and sometimes believe so strongly in our own perspectives that we forget to consider alternate points of view. Being quiet and listening should be our very first impulse. By doing so, we can learn so much about our staff, volunteers, donors, and leaders. Don't get me wrong: I'm a big believer in "planning the work and working the plan." But that only works when everyone on the team feels trusted and, in the end, heard.

The article is at http://philanthropy.com/article/Analyzing-Fundraisers-/144861/ but you must be a subscriber to read it.

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