Introvert or Extrovert? What Really Matters for Fundraising is Engagement

What kind of personality do you have? That’s a question that can generate a million different answers as there seems to be new personality quizzes on social media every day. Some personality tests are relatively complicated, like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator with its 16 classifications, but fundraisers can learn a lot with a much simpler distinction—are you an introvert or an extrovert?

An extrovert is someone who is outgoing, talkative, and displays high energy in group settings. If humans had a battery, extroverts would be recharged by being around others. An introvert, on the other hand, enjoys solitary and calm experiences. An introvert’s battery is recharged by calm time alone, which would leave their extrovert friends bouncing off the walls.

Now that we have some basic definitions for these terms, here’s why it matters—your team and your community are comprised of a mix of extroverts and introverts, and considering only one type is a common mistake for nonprofits around the country.

At many organizations, fundraising is considered the exclusive province of the extrovert. It makes sense. Fundraisers speak to many donors to strengthen relationships and often give presentations to groups, an activity that can cause an introvert anxiety. But an interview with Brian Saber in the Chronicle of Philanthropy makes the case introverts fit into fundraising too.

Saber is the perfect case study for this—he’s an introvert who has spent 40 years in fundraising. One technique he developed to help nonprofits understand the psychology of their teams is a personality test called the Asking Styles. This system goes deeper than simply splitting up extroverts and introverts, putting extroverts into categories of “Rainmakers” and “Go-Getters” which are self explanatory, and introverts into “Mission Controller” and “Kindred Spirit” categories. According to Saber, Mission Controllers prioritize learning and planning, while Kindred Spirits place special emphasis on connecting deeply with others.

DonorSearch believes it’s important to be cognizant of personality types, both within a nonprofits’ team, and within its wider community. But it isn’t the most important thing to be aware of—that will always be engagement. Engagement is the great driver of fundraising success, and anyone can be engaged, regardless of their personality type. In this regard, engagement is the great leveler. Introverts and extroverts may express engagement differently and their engagement may be strengthened through different means, but at the end of the day, it supersedes other factors when deciding to make a gift to an organization.

The approach DonorSearch suggests clients take is to first evaluate donors and prospects using our AI-generated engagement scores, then work with engaged individuals to learn things that aren’t part of our scoring—like personality type and what kinds of communications they like to receive. Consider a prospect that could turn into a major donor. While some nonprofits will simply go in blind with their standard approach, DonorSearch clients are equipped with crucial knowledge that the prospect is engaged to the organization and/or its worthy mission. Their efforts can instead focus on learning what most appeals to the prospect.

An extroverted prospect may love a personal invitation to attend a gala dinner, but an introvert may consider that same offer practically a punishment. By taking time to determine the personality type of engaged prospects, your fundraising team, made up of both extroverts and introverts, might realize the introverted donor would be better served by a personal call with a program manager or even the executive director to talk about an organization’s strengths and how it could deploy their donation to directly impact the mission.

DonorSearch Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “Our company, like every organization on Earth, has a mix of extroverts and introverts, just as our clients and their communities do. In our experience, the best approach to dealing with different personality types is to focus on the things that bring us together—including engagement and a shared mission—to serve as the bedrock on which a deeper relationship can be formed. When we’re starting from the same place and headed the same direction, communication always becomes easier.”

Ultimately, Saber’s interview provides valuable insight into how fundraising teams can best work to address community needs with its mix of introverts and extroverts. Saber describes the effective teamwork he developed with an extroverted partner who would take the lead on making calls as Saber worked behind the scenes with research and development. To coordinate efforts, Saber explains teammates must work out details ahead of time by asking questions like, “How’s that meeting going to unfold, given our styles? How can I assign our roles based on our styles? How can we help each other to ask the right questions, be quiet, and follow up appropriately?”

When you begin your fundraising process with DonorSearch data, these are also the kinds of questions your team can focus on, instead of asking “Does this person care about our mission at all?” In practice, working this way substantially increases the odds of a successful fundraising campaign, which in turn fuels your organization’s future success. In all cases, answering the question of engagement is a higher priority than determining personality type.

To learn how we can help you exceed your annual targets through the power of engagement, please contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future success every day, consider a career with DonorSearch.

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