How to Fundraise Effectively as an Introvert
Fundraising is one of those things that society thinks introverts aren't cut out for. When you think of fundraising many times the first thought that pops into your head is someone on stage asking for donations at a large event or standing outside a grocery store handing out flyer and asking for money. Not exactly where introverts shine. But what society seems to have completely missed is that introverts have an innate skillset that can make them highly effective fundraisers.
How is that possible? Because fundraising, in general, is very misunderstood and therefore how to fundraise effectively also isn't well understood. Donation dollars don't come in from bake sales and raffle nights. They come in through relationships.
Relationships are the key to fundraising and introverts process a special set of skills that make them highly effective fundraisers. This is because they are fantastic at building meaningful relationships.
Introverts, generally, are great at:
- Listening to others
- Being sensitive and aware of how others are feeling
- Being happy letting the donor be the center of attention
All these things play a MAJOR role in closing a big gift (or even a small gift). The thing is, many times these things can be difficult for extroverts and they can miss important cues from donors or feel uncomfortable letting others take center stage all the time.
To further show how introverts can absolutely kill the fundraising game let's look at the three phases of fundraising and how introverts can be highly effective in each phase. (If you are unfamiliar with the phases check out Fundraising 101)
Phase 1 - Starting the relationship
In this phase you are finding potential donors and trying to bring them into your community. This phase can be intimidating for introverts. Reaching out and making new contacts isn't easy for most people, but there are less taxing ways than going door to door or trying to talk to people outside a grocery store.
Here are some methods of finding new donors that are more appealing to introverts
1. Writing letters. I'm not talking about sending out a snail mail campaign where you send the same thing to everyone in town. What I'm suggesting is sending personalized letters to specific people. You may know them through friends and family or maybe you just found their contact info in the phone book. Either way works but in order to make it effective the letter must be compelling and including an easy way for them to get in contact with you in the future. Nice handwritten letters are few and far between these days so it will get their attention!
2. Having friends introduce you to their friends. This is a tried and true networking method that really everyone should be using. It works well for introverts though because their is already a point of contact and 9 times out of 10 the introduction will lead to a one-on-one meeting where you can let your inter-personal skills shine through.
3. Use the internet to your advantage, specifically Facebook groups. Guess what. There are literally millions of people on Facebook that you can talk to without leaving your couch. I have found that Facebook groups is an amazing way to reach new people who are out of your circle and have similar interests to you. Once you make a connection in the group send them a private message, and then if things are rolling you could set up Skype sessions to talk more about your organization and how they could join the community.
3. Have someone else make first contact. I'm sure you are thinking this one is a cop-out, and in a way it is, but hear me out. If your strengths are being the 'big gun' that comes for the one-on-one meetings after the initial contact is made then that's fantastic and you should put all your efforts into that. Draining yourself to get the initial interaction isn't a good use of your time or energy, so if you can find someone else to do it for you that's great. Unfortunately, if you are a one person show this isn't going to be an option.
Phase 2- building the relationship
This is where introverts really shine. Building the relationship is all about making a connection with the donor and understanding their wants and needs in an organization. This phase is all about spending time with the donor and listening to them. Introverts kill it in this phase! They are masters at listening and making the person they are talking to be the center of attention. They can immediately put the potential donor at ease and make a strong connection fast.
This phase involves meeting with potential donors and there are MANY ways you could do that. As introverts it's important to control the environment and make sure that anything you do with the potential donor is going to allow you to use your key strengths. Because of this anything that involves one-on-one meetings in a quiet environment is going to be best. Think restaurants, walks, or coffee meet ups.
Phase 3- Maintaining the relationship
This phase can be hard but introverts have a leg up on this one as well. The worst thing you can do with a donor is receive a gift and then ignore them. Think of it as a friendship. You don't want to stay friends with someone who comes around asking for money once a year and never talks to you any other time! Introverts are better able to maintain close ties with the people they have connections with because they are less motivated to go out and constantly be making new friends like many extroverts. In the nonprofit world this is huge.
Simple things like sending a quick email on their birthday or mailing a quick note every once in a while just to keep the communication lines open is an easy way to maintain the relationship that introverts are freaking fantastic at.
Introverts have a innate skillset that makes them naturally effective fundraisers. The problem is that we only portray extremely extroverted individuals as being successful at raising money, which simply isn't the case.
If you're introverted I'd love to hear tips you use to be an effective fundraiser. Leave a comment below!
Keep impacting the world!