The 6 Essential Skills that fundraisers should work on
Many people believe that personal and professional integrity is a quality that you either do or don’t have. But there are ways to strengthen your own. First, take the time to understand the ins and outs of the Code of Fundraising Practice and Rulebooks for street and door fundraising. When you understand and have faith in the systems that are guiding your field, you can always act in the best interest of your organisation and its supporters.
Ultimately, ethics and integrity will allow you to do the right thing and gives you the confidence to prepare for any changes. Even though integrity is often considered an inherent trait, you can develop yours by understanding the regulations that are already in place.
2. Communication & relationship building
Whether you’re preparing content for a major campaign or leading a meeting with key stake holders, communication is everything. For fundraisers, strong communication skills will allow you to:
- Build incredible relationships with the people around you: giving you an opportunity to truly get to know your team and create a place where speaking up and sharing is second nature.
- Express your mission, vision and values: which in turn tells potential supporters why your organisation is supporting a particular cause and what they can do to get on board.
Communication is an art that allows you to articulate an idea or belief as persuasively and concisely as possible. So, while working on the skills that fill your CV don’t overlook the significance of your soft skills.
We live in a world where our circumstances can change in an instant. So more often than not, you will be required to think on your feet, improvise and make the best of situations in the moment. Fundraising relies on opportunism because it allows you to gain momentum very quickly. If you’re offered an incredible opportunity to collaborate with another organisation, time won’t permit you to reschedule it (and no-one likes to turn chances away).
Learning to work under pressure and run with an idea will help you to cope with the dynamic environment that is fundraising. Being an opportunist doesn’t mean taking unnecessary risks – it means that you’re able to see an opening and use it to your advantage.
This is the trickiest skill to put in action because it varies so much for each individual. But, presence is really the capacity for your absence to be noticed, to command attention and respect. Presence doesn’t require you to be militant with your team and strike fear in the heart of those who work with you. Rather, it’s your ability to make people listen to your opinion. But the real question is, what can you do to develop your presence?
First, understand that there is a time and place to separate the personal from professional. There will be occasions that require you to be more assertive than others. And finding a happy balance between this and your relaxed tone is key to having presence.
But presence is about much more than the way you speak to people. Respect stems from your knowledge and ability to put a stamp on your role. Remember that your value comes from contributing to your organisations success. So ask yourself: if I wasn’t here, would my team be as efficient? And this will clearly indicate whether your making changes or just keeping the cogs turning.
5. Digital proficiency
It’s fair to say that digital technology has transformed the way that we live and work. So it’s no surprise that digital has had an impact on fundraising. You have to understand that the attention of a potential donor is short. They want the information that they’re looking for at speed and, most importantly, they need a seamless experience. So a solid understanding of digital application is necessary.
With the use of mobile on the rise, you have to discover new and innovative ways to reach donors and make your organisation stand out from the noise. Stay on top of the latest trends and make time to develop your understanding of digital. This can be as simple as enrolling to an online course, signing up to a newsletter or analysing other campaigns. Whatever way you choose, make sure you allocate time to digital discovery.
If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” – Marc Anthony
It goes without saying, that to be a successful fundraiser, you have to love the organisation that you work for and be a true advocate of the cause. If you want to persuade others to be supporters, you have to be convincing. And that stems from passion.
As with most things, the better your knowledge, the better your application will be and the more likely you’ll enjoy everything about the role (including the challenges).
Whichever skill you choose to work on, remember that it takes time, patience and dedication. You don’t have to take on everything at once – just work on improving your skills one step at a time and make a conscious effort to keep learning.
For more expert career skills tips visit the CharityJob website.
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