At today’s Fund Raising Executives of Metro Louisville (FREML) October Program Liz Hack, Senior Consultant at Griffin Fundraising and Marketing led a presentation/discussion on “How Personality Tests Can Enhance Donor Relationships.” Liz explained that knowing your own staff members’ personalities combined with that of your (potential) donors can increase your chances of a successful ask. Attendees took a short personality test adapted from the longer test found at AskingMatters.com. The categories included Extroverted and Analytical, Extroverted and Intuitive, Introverted and Intuitive, and Introverted and Analytical. My fundraising personality was Introverted Analytical with Introverted Intuitive as a close second (only two points between them).
I admit, I get a little twitchy when the word “introverted” comes up in my line of work because introversion is so often mistaken for “shy” or “does not like people” (Liz did not make this mistake, of course). Because of this mistake, people often assume that there is no place for introverts at the Fundraising Professionals Table. This is fundamentally untrue. As Liz pointed out, sometimes mixing the introverted fundraiser with the extroverted donor makes for a great match!
Several myths exist about introversion. One of the most popular is that introverts don’t like people or they are shy. I often joke that I don’t like people, but it’s mostly my social anxiety getting the best of me. And anyone who knows me knows that I am anything but shy. I am simply…hesitant. What was helpful about Liz’s presentation and this test is that the personality explanations regarding strengths and weaknesses were spot on:
The Introverted and Analytical types tend to keep excellent donor records (check). They love to complete evaluations and reports that others may find tedious (check). They are skilled at providing detailed presentations when they make a pitch (another check). Likewise, the Introverted and Intuitive types like to meet with donors in small groups and in quiet settings (yep). They rely on their instincts about people and less on facts and figures (I like the combination of both). They don’t like scripted solicitations (I tend to like to know what I’m going to say, but can speak “off script” when well prepared). The “weakness” these two types of personalities share is that they don’t love big galas and events. Also, they can be either bogged down by facts and figures (Analyticals) or unprepared to cite them (Intuitives).
Here is what these personalities are not:
1. They are not necessarily quiet. Listen, I love to hear myself talk. Get me going on a topic about which I’m passionate and I will not. shut. up. But the key is passion. I am not going to wax poetic about just anything. For this reason, I tend to take on clients that are working toward a mission I can get behind. Being a grants professional, to me, is about authenticity before it is about writing or talking. If I am going to help your organization make its case, then I need to believe in its mission.
2. I am not shy; I just don’t like to advertise that I’m in the room. Carl King (see the link above) makes a great point about this. “Shyness has nothing to do with being an introvert…What they need is a reason to interact.” People tell me I’m lying when I say I am an INFJ (“I” being for Introvert) as if this implies shyness. All it means is that I’m not likely to approach you first. It also means that in that small group donor setting mentioned above, I am the one listening. THIS is what makes me a good writer. I listen to people’s words, what interests them, what they find important. Then, when the time is right, I take those words and incorporate them into my pitch or grant request. Listening gives me a reason to interact.
3. “Hi, I’m a grant writer and I love being alone.” This is actually true. It’s raining outside my home-office window right now. The house is empty, and I’m blogging in peace and quiet. THIS IS MY HAPPY PLACE. That said, I will go bat guano crazy if this is the only thing I do today. Just because I dread going to your house party doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to have an “authentic and sincere connection” with…just you. And maybe a couple of your friends if you give me adequate warning. Don’t surprise me. Thanks.
Knowing my personality challenges will allow me to work harder for my clients: 1. I have to avoid getting bogged down in research; 2. I have to pull myself out of my shell and attend that large fundraising event (even though I’d rather curl up on the couch with a good book and/or The Walking Dead (the show, not the actual zombies)); and 3. I have to be flexible with the array of wonderful personality types I will meet along the way.
I may find Zombies > Events, but I am part of a team effort to make this community better. Suit up and show up.