Friday, October 28, 2011

Characteristics of a Successful Fundraiser

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give.”  A good fundraiser is generally a positive person who sees his/her profession as helping others make a life! 

In addition to that positive attitude, there are five key qualities that I have found make for a successful fundraiser.  I think these traits are more important than experience and formal training.  A successful fundraiser is:

1.   Passionate
Asking for money is difficult.  But if the person doing the asking – or directing the process – is passionate about the cause, that passion comes through, is infectious, and results in more and larger gifts.  In addition, passion is what keeps one going when all seems lost.
2.   Nosey
Good fund raising means matching the right prospective donor with your cause.  A good fundraiser pays attention to what people say, how they live, who they know, and every other seemingly trivial aspect of a person’s life.
3.  Fearless
In my seminars, I deal most often with fear – the fear of asking, the fear of rejection.  A good fundraiser is fearless in the face of overwhelming odds.  A good fundraiser has the attitude of, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
4.   Creative
A good fundraiser uses creativity to forge a win/win relationship.  Too late to get a challenge grant?  How about a grant that recognizes the funds raised to date – as a reward?  I took that approach once and it allowed my group to get a campaign-finishing grant that had seemed hopeless after our visit to the foundation.
5.   Persistent
Even if the first answer is “no,” a good fundraiser continues to learn more about that prospect, seeks ways to involve the prospect in the organization, tries to understand the motivation for the initial “no”, and continues to seek opportunities to ask again. 

Kathryn Lima has over 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, and fund raising.  E-mail your fund raising questions to her at
Happy Fund Raising!

Kathryn Lima
Faro Enterprises

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