My name is Emma, and I’m a Reluctant Introvert.
Like most people with a deep love of personal development, I’ve done all the assessments - from Myers-Briggs (#TeamINFJ!) to True Colours (is that still a thing?)
Every time, without fail, I land in the introvert camp.
In true introvert style, I’ve been spending some time reflecting lately - why am I so resistant to embracing the idea of introversion?
I think it’s because there are so many misconceptions about introverts - and my perception of myself is simply not aligned with some of the commonly accepted traits:
We, like the eponymous best selling book on the topic, are always quiet. We’re shy and withdrawn. We hate networking.
But none of the above is accurate, or true across the board for all introverts.
In fact, while it sounds counter-intuitive, our strengths actually make us some of the top fundraisers - especially when it comes to working with big donors.
Here’s why introverts excel at major gifts:
Introverts are one on one superstars
Building meaningful one on one relationships with your donors is at the heart of all successful major gift fundraising.
And when it comes to working one on one with donors, introverts really shine.
Introverts tend to have a real knack for active listening - this means we can be super effective in working with donors to uncover their passions, discovering more about their philanthropic interests, and helping them achieve the change they want to see in the world.
Our observant nature also loans itself well to working one on one - we often pick up on subtle, unspoken cues, like body language and facial expression, which helps us build trust, and effectively navigate sensitive conversations.
We have the ability for deep focus and concentration
In the excellent book Deep Work, Cal Newport notes that most people have lost the ability to go deep.
Instead, we spend our days in a frantic blur of email and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task - and it’s a skill that’s becoming increasingly rare.
This is great news for introverts - because our ability to concentrate and focus deeply is one of our super-powers.
We can laser focus our attention on one donor in a crowded room, or concentrate for several hours on writing that important proposal - and these are skills that make us stand out as fundraisers.
Want to create a truly irresistible giving opportunity? Ask an introvert
Introverts tend to be less prone to chasing FSOs (Fundraising Shiny Objects) than our more extroverted colleagues, who often gravitate towards the stimulation of variety and new ideas.
At the same time, our ability to plan and think strategically does not mean we’re rigid thinkers - introverts often have an active imagination and a strong creative streak, and take smart risks, making us ideal innovators.
We’re particularly good at using these skills to create irresistible giving opportunities for major donors - our ability to build meaningful relationships, and our out of the box thinking are both tremendous assets when it comes to crafting truly thoughtful asks.
Are you a reluctant introvert like me? Well, maybe it’s high time to embrace your introvert super powers - because your strengths mean you’re naturally suited to raising more 5, 6, and even 7-figure gifts for your mission!
Stay tuned for more next week - I’ll be talking about the 3 danger zones you need to watch out for if you’re an introverted fundraiser, and how to effectively manage them.
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert
with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)