Passion is critical for a fundraiser, but it takes more than passion for a fundraiser to work long hours, respond with compassion to complaints from donors, stay up late to make sure a gala is as close to perfect as possible or deal with any of the myriad of things that characterize the role of the fundraiser.
In addition to passion, look for a fundraiser with precision. “Precise” is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “very careful and exact about the details of something.” For a fundraiser, details are part of every aspect of the job – and a careless attitude about precision can hinder the success of a fundraising program and thus lead to a fundraiser’s voluntary or involuntary departure.
It’s easy to think about proofreading when we think about precision. After all, we hate to send out a letter, email or proposal with a misspelled word. And yes, that is important (although an occasional misspelled work in a letter has generally not impacted income; in fact, some say it can actually improve results because it points to the humanness of the letter signer. But let’s not go that far.)
A fundraiser must also be precise when it comes to managing relationships with donors. This is true in all aspects, from the accuracy of information maintained in donor records to following up on a donor’s request for information, to making a precise decision about how much to ask for in a proposal, face-to-face solicitation or appeal letter.
Research by Dr. Adrian Sargeant, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at the University of Plymouth, and Roger Lawson, Managing Director of Revolutionise, showed that commitment, trust and satisfaction are key drivers of donor loyalty. A fundraiser who is precise does not need to be a perfectionist, but he or she will be driven by a desire to insure that decisions are weighed on the scale of donor loyalty.
So when looking for a fundraiser, add “precision” to your evaluation criteria. Look for someone who cares about the details – the details of your fundraising and the details of the donor. That is a characteristic that can have a lasting impact on your mission.