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When I first became involved with fundraising some 25 years ago, it was more of a career that one fell into by chance. Personally, I was introduced into the world of development through an internship and quickly discovered that there were a lot of things I liked about the work, and it was a good match for my personality.

Today, I see many people making a conscious choice to become a fundraiser. If you are considering a possible career in this field, it is important to reflect on whether or not your personality, strengths, and weaknesses make you a good fit for the field. Consider the list below.

Top 10 core personality traits of an effective Fundraiser:

1. Highly organized

Expect to wear many hats as a fundraiser and time management is key – by being organized you will use your time more efficiently and be more productive

2. Effective Communication Skills

Being a strong writer and public speaker is essential when you represent an organization

3. Good listener

Being able to listen to your donor’s needs and interests will go far in building relationships

4. Genuinely interested in people

People desire authentic connections – take the time to learn about your donors, co-workers, and volunteers

5. Strong instincts about people

Timing is everything  — know when to ask for a gift or when not to

6. Able to work with many types of people

You must be relatable to many types of people ranging from your organization’s clients, donors to volunteers

7. Integrity/follow-through

Doing what you say you will do builds trust with co-workers, donors, and Board members

8. Emotional intelligence

Having a sense of timing and diplomacy in day to day situations is essential

9. Optimistic

Expect to hear some no’s in the fundraising world but keep being optimistic -success is around the corner

10. Driven by numbers and results oriented

Effective fundraisers are extremely motivated to meet and/or exceed their organization’s fundraising goals – it is an innate quality


If this sounds like you, fundraising may be a good fit for you! If you are interested in learning more, there are a number of fundraising networking groups in Chicagoland, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Chicago Chapter, or I encourage you to reach out to someone who has been in the field for many years and do an informational interview. You will find that fundraisers are some of the most generous people and fundraising is a career option worth exploring.