Gift officers act as ambassadors to spread your the story of your institution’s value and inspire philanthropy. However, inspired, persuasive fundraisers don’t just appear. It takes the right people joining the team, as well as intentional training to get the effective and energized fundraising team you need to meet your goals.
What skills and abilities do great fundraisers have? How are real fundraising executives hiring and training expert advancement teams to have these skills. Here are some fundraising quotes inspire you and then give you ideas for action:
1. “Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving”
Why it made the list: Hank Rosso, the author of the classic manual Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising, understood that securing a donation often involves teaching the donor philanthropic habits. Prospective donors, especially new donors, are just beginning to consider how a contribution could further their goals and lend them a sense of involvement and satisfaction. A good fundraiser gently supports donors and helps them find meaningful ways to contribute.
2. “Donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe …”
Why it made the list: Great fundraisers help their constituents see their donations as personal affirmations of causes they believe in. Skilled fundraisers are able to connect with the prospect while doing some respectful detective work. Once it’s clear what causes or values are close to the prospective donor’s heart, the fundraiser can switch to the role of matchmaker and find the student groups, the departments, or the causes that individual donors could be suited to support.
3. “Most giving is 80% emotion and 20% rational. The best way to get to someone’s emotions is to tell a story.”
Why it made the list: Once they’ve listened and learned about donors’ values, fundraisers close the deal through storytelling. Knowing how to make the case is the difference between a master fundraiser and one who is still learning. At the end of the day, the fundraiser should have shown the donor a way to contribute to a mutually valuable project.
How to Hire and Train the Best Fundraisers
Fundraisers are storytellers, detectives, and teachers—they wear a lot of hats. As they form relationships, they help their prospects create unique, philanthropic legacies. How do you interview and hire candidates who have these capabilities? How do you help fundraisers develop these skills themselves? Here are some ideas directly from advancement managers.
4. “I look for candidates who share our common values of integrity and work ethic”
Why it made the list: Is the perfect fundraiser really a unicorn? For many higher education institutions, it’s difficult to hire elite fundraisers who are already donor relationship experts. Luckily, you’ll still meet strong candidates—they just need a bit of training and investment to help them ramp up. Reeher Community member Kent Stanley, at Minnesota State University, Mankato explains how he hires for the right fit.
5. “I invest about 20% of my time towards training gift officers. We want them to be self-sufficient within 6 months of hiring”
Why it made the list: Once they’ve been hired, fundraisers hone their abilities through training and support. What does it take to teach the emotional intelligence required to be a great fundraiser? It takes a supportive boss, structured training, and hard work. Reeher Community member Kevin Engel of Wheaton College describes his philosophy on gift officer training.
Helping Your Team Achieve Their Best
Institutions with great fundraisers tell their story better and form lasting philanthropic connections with alumni, parents, and friends. Creating this great team can mean the difference between meeting your goals, or missing the mark. How are you hiring, training, and retaining the fundraisers who tell your institution’s story best? Luckily, with the right outlook and priorities, it’s not as impossible as it sounds.
Are you managing a fundraising team and working hard to meet tough goals? Here are 6 ways fundraisers can up their talent management strategy.