This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is VP of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
Do You Know Your Closers?
During a 2018 game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians, the Reds staged a comeback in the ninth inning. Cleveland's manager saw that his closer was in trouble, so he called to the bullpen for a reliever. He needed a lefty to close out the game against a particular tricky batter. Unfortunately, the bullpen sent out the wrong man for the job – a righty. The batter for the Reds saw his opportunity, lined a pitch into right-center field, cleared the bases, and eventually won the game 7-4.
As fundraisers, we all have specialties. Some of us are the closers, and others are the long-term stewardship expert or the door-opener. Putting the right people in the right situations is often the difference between winning and losing, just like baseball.
Do you know who the closers are on your team? Do you know how to find out?
My colleague, Marijana Boone, recently researched fundraising this challenge and uncovered three questions that you can ask your fundraisers to reveal their natural talent.
Here are the three questions that will help you place your fundraisers in the right situations to ensure you close gifts and build pipelines at the rate your organization needs.
1. What exasperates you?
Do you have a fundraiser on your team who something comes naturally to, so much so that they get frustrated when the skill doesn't come easily to others? That point of frustration is typically a strength that they don't realize other people aren't born with.
We've all seen the gift officer frustrated when someone on the team isn't exceptionally smooth in front of donors. They might be someone who you want on long-term stewardship. We've also seen the gift officer who does not understand when others aren't fast and efficient on email, text, or the phone. This frustration might indicate that this gift officer is good at the discovery process and opening doors.
2. What compliments do you dismiss?
When people are just naturally gifted and receive a compliment about it, they tend to downplay it. That's because what was natural for them isn't considered work. They're unlikely to estimate the value they bring to the table correctly.
In your interactions with fundraisers, look for the things that they downplay. If you're looking for a closer, you might find a way to compliment a gift officer for a skill needed in that role for your organization and see if they make a big deal about it. Not being too impressed with themselves could let you know that you have an ace in the hole. You're not looking for humble. You're looking for understated.
3. What do you think about when you have nothing to think about?
Do you have a fundraiser who is constantly mulling over a single topic? Does it seem like they bring up similar issues no matter what you are talking about? That's an indication that there's a part of the fundraising process that genuinely resonates with them, and their brain can't help but come back to it. Use this obsession to your advantage and assign them to work on a solution and teach others how to make progress in that area.
To dive deeper into this concept and learn about placing fundraising talent in portfolios that match their skills, check out Gravyty's recent webinar with our great friends at Advizor Pursuant, "How to Find Your Fundraisers' Superpowers & Optimize Portfolios."
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, connect with Gravyty today.