Guest Post by Brian Saber
I’m delighted to share this week’s guest post by Brian Saber, President of Asking Matters, who specializes in helping fundraisers find the Asking Style that works best for their personality.
Big Admission: I’ve been a frontline fundraiser for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until four years when I had an “aha moment” that I finally felt good about my career.
I know I had been “successful” at all my fundraising positions. Every organization was thrilled with my results and I could see how I moved the bar. But it always bothered me how I was so uncomfortable at the cultivation and fundraising events, so critical to most organizations’ fundraising. And the individual cultivation and solicitation meetings, of which I had thousands, were tough as well.
I’m an introvert and, on top of that, I’m shy. Most people don’t believe it because of how I act, but it takes tremendous effort on my part to be that interactive and seemingly outgoing. The introvert in me gets drained from all the interaction with people and I need to refuel my tanks after a meeting or event. The shy person in me can’t even walk up to someone at my own event to introduce myself!
The “aha moment” came when my Asking Matters cofounder and I created the company based on Asking Styles – the concept that everyone has their own style and if we fundraise in our own style we’ll be more comfortable and more confident. . . and better fundraisers. We realized everyone was being told there was one way to fundraise, but we didn’t believe that. There are many ways.
There are four Asking Styles, based on how people interact and how they think. That means two of the Styles are introvert-based – Mission Controller and my style, Kindred Spirit. The Mission Controllers are analytic, which helps them be more objective about the asking process. The Kindred Spirits are intuitive introverts, and tend to be sensitive and conflict-adverse. That makes many of us shy.
So, now that I know I’m a Kindred Spirit, there are lots of things I can do to feel more comfortable. The first is to realize I will never be the party person and this is fine. Not everyone can play that role. As long as there are other staff and volunteers who shine in that environment it’s okay for me to stand by the wall (or, even better, out in the hall – that’s my favorite spot!).
I also know soliciting family and friends – whether as a staff member or as a volunteer – is a bad idea. It’s just too intimate and I take it way too personally when people say no. In fact, I broke my own rule this week while raising money for a political campaign – and my request for a modest sum from dear friends was rejected. Ouch – that hurt! It’s much easier for me to ask people I don’t have a close relationship with, as the rejection is not nearly as personal. Even if I’m friendly with donors, it’s different and I can keep that experience more objective.
Knowing I’m a Kindred Spirit has made a world of difference in my work as a both a fundraiser and a consultant. Plus, it’s given me a particular affinity to my fellow introverts – Mission Controllers and Kindred Spirits alike.
On June 20th I’m delivering a webinar to Lori’s Ignited Online Fundraising Community and I hope my fellow introverts – as well as those of you who work with us – will join me to learn what I’ve discovered over the last few years. Once you learn how to fundraise in your own style, you’ll be more comfortable, find the experience less fraught, and be more successful.
Even if you can’t join us, take the Asking Style Assessment and find out your personal Asking Style. It’ll help you see yourself in a whole new light!
Here’s to your fundraising success!