5 Soft Skills That Can Help You at Any Stage in Your Fundraising Career
Your skills are your most important currency in the workplace. You spend years developing proficiencies and capabilities that benefit your fundraising and propel you forward in your career. But what’s often overlooked is the softer side of your job – the skills that build great relationships not only with your trustees but also with your colleagues.
While your technical skills may help you get your foot in the door, the people skills are what make you a better fundraiser. CharityJob outlines five of the most important soft skills every fundraiser should have to do well in their career.
It’s safe to say that fundraising isn’t always a science. In the world of not-for-profit, things don’t always go according to plan, especially when outside factors influence the way people engage with your cause. But this shouldn’t deter you. In fact, an effective fundraiser is one who is quick on their feet and ready to change course at the drop of a hat. Charities need workers who can adapt to industry shifts and stay relevant. The more flexible you are when it comes to roadblocks are problems, the more successful your fundraising campaigns will be.
2. Critical observation
Data doesn’t mean anything if you don’t understand how to interpret it. You need to be aware of trends not only amongst your own users but also economic, social and political trends that may impact the way people view your campaigns or fundraising efforts. The better you are at viewing your market and followers through a critical lens, the more in tune your fundraising campaigns will be with the people they are trying to reach. Ask yourself obvious questions and consider all perspectives.
Communication is most often associated with public speaking, but we tend to forget about the other side of the coin: listening. Make your ears your secret weapon. The easiest way to build trust and relationships in your business is by showing an honest and genuine interest in what other people are saying. Ask follow up questions and provide feedback when someone needs it. The more you listen, the more you’ll understand the needs of the business and the people you’re trying to inspire to donate to your cause.
A great channel for this is social media. If people aren’t responding well to your fundraising campaigns on social, listen to what they have to say and adapt.
In a corporate role, it’s easy to become disconnected with the people you are talking to. But as a fundraiser in a non-profit, you have the benefit of really getting to know the people that are drawn to your cause. Use the passion and the drive that got you into fundraising in the first place and really put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re trying to help.
The more empathy you have in your communication, the more authentic and powerful your message will be. This skill will also improve your internal communications, making it easier for you to collaborate with colleagues and lead fundraising initiatives.
Whether you’re leading your first project or you’re leading a team of fundraisers, being able to take command and guide the business towards positive results is a great skill to have. If you’re just starting out in the not-for-profit sector, showing leadership qualities early on will do wonderful things for your career development. Smaller charities, especially, require you to adopt different responsibilities and play a few different parts – if you’re a natural and confident leader, management is likely to trust you to get things done and give you more responsibility a bit further down the line.
Communicate your vision and have confidence in everything you do. Don’t be afraid to take on extra projects and share any and all ideas (no matter how crazy!).
A lot of these skills are inherent, we just have to take the time to nurture them and apply them to our everyday tasks and responsibilities. And the best part? They’re just as good for you as they are for your organisation.
Stephanie Dotto, Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob