3 Habits of Influential Fundraisers

Increasing your influence can be a powerful tool in managing up.  

While it may seem intimidating at first - the truth is anyone can develop their influence by consistently practicing the right skills and habits.

Here are three ways to use the power of influence to raise more money for your mission - and the simple habits you can practice to increase your influence at your organization, with your donors, and beyond: 

      1. Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the most important skills you can develop as a fundraiser, and a great one to help leverage your influence. 

It’s important to truly and deeply understand the motivations of your donors. 

Next time you have a donor call or meeting coming up, sit down and schedule time before the meeting and just get really curious about that donor. 

Use that curiosity and leverage it to prepare before the meeting by coming up with a few key questions to ask.

Here are some examples: 

  • What originally brought you to connect with our organization.
  • What is the change you want to see in the world with your philanthropy?
  • What do you want to achieve with your giving?

      2. Social Proof 

Social proof is a term that was originally coined by Robert Cialdini, who wrote the book Influence

In plain language, social proof simply refers to this tendency that we have as humans to look to other humans, look to their behavior as we are making decisions.

We are very social animals, all of us. It's an inborn tendency to look around us for social proof.

One of the most powerful ways to leverage social proof is the idea of enabling your donors to look to their peers as their decision making. The power of peers cannot be underestimated in fundraising.

This is one of the reasons why working with leadership volunteers in fundraising is so effective - it comes back down to social proof and influence.

Even if you aren't working with leadership volunteers, or you don't currently have access to leadership volunteers, you most certainly do have access to another source of social proof that I think is super powerful - and that is sharing effectively structured stories about your other supporters. 

It can be so effective to influence your other donors by actually hearing from donors who have already made the decision to support your organization. That's a great example of social proof. 

You can bring them up in the course of your conversations with donors or include them more formally in your communications. 

Think about how you can leverage the power of social proof to effectively influence within your organization as well as your donor, as social proof is very powerful.

      3. Persistence

You'll notice I use the word practice a lot.

That’s because I believe a lot of influence does come down to regular habits and then regular things you practice on a day to day basis.

Here's a big mistake I see a lot of fundraisers make - they simply give up too soon when trying to land a meeting with a donor. 

And when you look at the statistics from sales, it's typically said that it can take anywhere between six to eight touch points to qualify a lead.

When working with donors, you really need to practice persistence and make sure that you’re watching out for the habit of giving up too soon.

I want to leave you with one important message: Influence does not come from position, title, wealth, or power. You’re not born with it. The good news is anyone can develop their influence by persistently and consistently practicing these skills and habits.

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