The Personality of Fundraising

Fundraising is fundraising. Read all the books, blogs, articles, and while styles differ, the information is pretty much the same. And yet, fundraising for YOUR organization is not the same as fundraising for someone else’s, and it is this customization that matters. So, yes. Fundraising—even transactional fundraising—is all about relationships. And consistency matters. As does gratitude and connecting the dots so donors see the impact of their generosity. Bu how you go about building those relationships, maintaining them, growing new ones and then maintaining those—that’s a very singular act.

Personality counts. Yours and your organization’s—though the latter is usually called “culture.” And the culture that matters most is one of philanthropy.

Organizations that have such a culture not only understand the importance of fundraising but ensure that they have the necessary resources in order to successfully fundraise.

The resources include:Fundraising sits at the center of the organization: Everyone must be committed to getting and giving charitable gifts.

  1. Everyone at the organization can talk about why and what the organization needs to fulfill its mission—and how the potential donor can join with the organization to make that happen.
  2. Everyone—regardless of role—sees him or herself as an organizational ambassador—helping to identify new prospects and partners
  3. The Board understands its fiduciary responsibilities and that it is their role not just to give and get, but also to ensure that the organization has a well-resourced development function and that the ED is provided the time to be involved with fundraising.
  4. Beyond that, in an organization that has a fundraising personality, understands that our job is to provide opportunities for prospects and donors to be supporters. It is not our jobs to decide whether those prospects or these groups of people will or won’t give and certainly not to limit the size of the gift they might consider.

Frequently I hear development directors and board members say things like, “Oh, George—he won’t give.” Or, “Our volunteers? They already give of their time.”

And perhaps George, despite his long relationships with the organization, won’t give, and the volunteers will believe that their time is the only gift necessary. But perhaps not. You really won’t know if you don’t ask.

Asking, of course, is a big part of having a fundraising personality. It’s not (just) that you are friendly and engaging. You can be that and fail at fundraising. Just as writers write, fundraisers raise funds. And they do that buy asking.

Proudly, with enthusiasm, and with the belief that they are offering the prospect the best opportunity ever.


Janet Levine works with nonprofit organizations, helping them to build that culture of philanthropy and increase fundraising capacity. Learn more at her website, or by contacting her directly at