We might assume that nonprofits are full of happy extroverted fundraisers, going out and gladhanding donors like crazy.
This is actually not the case.
A lot of fundraisers actually are secret (or not so secret) introverts who would rather sit at their computer than go out and risk humiliation in front of a donor.
Are you an introvert?
Don’t worry! There’s a fundraising job out there for you!
What sort of fundraising job?
If you’re an introvert but you’d still like to help the world, you can use your research and writing skills to do just that in fundraising!
The trick is, you’ll most likely have to work at a larger nonprofit like a hospital or a university to get into one of these more specialized roles. So start your search there.
Ever heard of a prospect researcher? What do they do?
This person is a major gift officer’s best friend.
What does a prospect researcher do?
Simply put, the prospect researcher looks at the donor database in a nonprofit and sees which individuals there are likely candidates for major gifts.
For large universities and hospitals, they may not just look at the donor database, but look at other databases like “Wealth Engine” which gives you the projected net worth of different individuals, as well as dredging up other research like newspaper articles, magazine articles, online profiles, and more, to create a whole picture of a person.
They also look at who is giving gifts to other nonprofits similar to yours, and they assess whether those individuals can be brought to care about your cause.
They prepare dossiers on potential major donors, and hand these off to their bosses who in turn hand these to the major gifts officers for their portfolio of donors.
The job is largely research, with no donor or public contact, unless the researcher has to call someone to verify some research information. If you’re an introvert, you may want to look into this job!
Grants AKA Foundation and government fundraising
When you tell someone that you’re a fundraiser, this is often what they think of first. “Oh, you get grants?” they say. Sometimes when people first discover fundraising, they think they need to be grantwriting consultants. And they don’t know that getting grants often depends more on the relationships you’ve built up with the grantmakers than your writing skills. And that if you’re working for a new nonprofit, you are almost certain to fail in getting any grants for them in the first year. It takes a long time to build up a relationship with funders.
You need to have these skills:
Research: You need to know where to look for grants, and how to sniff out opportunities for corporate grants and government contracting.
Interviewing Ability: You need to interview program staff and ask good questions to gain a deep understanding of the programs
Storytelling ability and writing ability: Grantors are people too, and they love to read a good story. A friend of mine worked at a foundation where every 6 months, the entire staff would gather to read the grant report from one of their grantees, because it was so riveting.
Relationship building: Ability to build and sustain relationships with grantmakers by consistently communicating your results. This means reporting, calling, and acknowledging their gift in your e-newsletter communications too.
A high level of attention to detail: Because grant applications can be extremely complex and they will disqualify you for getting even one thing wrong, you need to triple-check your application before you send it.
What does a communications manager do? At nonprofits that can afford to have a full time communications manager, you’re going to be responsible for how the nonprofit communicates with the outside world, and to some extent, with donors too. If you’re the communications manager, You may be in charge of:
- Designing, writing and editing the newsletter,
- Designing, writing and editing the e-newsletter
- Designing, writing and editing the annual report
- Putting together surveys for newsletter subscribers or donors
- Interpreting statistics from these surveys for leadership
- Updating the website
- Posting social media for the agency
- Tracking when the agency is mentioned
- Trying to get the organization featured in the newspaper and magazines
- Trying to get your top brass interviewed on TV and the radio
What this job generally does NOT have is a donor-facing or public-facing role.
You are usually behind the scenes, writing your story, working your magic on the website, and just generally helping your nonprofit look good.
Finally, if you’re an introvert and you want to work in fundraising, you might want to consider being a development associate.
What does a development associate do?
A Development associate often does not have a lot of contact with the public. The duties of a development associate may include:
- Entering donations into the database,
- Running reports from this database for their boss
- Printing out thank you notes for their boss to sign,
- Stuffing envelopes when it comes time for the annual appeal mailing,
- Helping update the website,
- Helping to write the newsletter,
- Helping to research grants, and
- Just generally helping out where needed.
Of these jobs, Development associate pays the least, and prospect researcher and communications manager pay more. Grantwriter is usually somewhere in the middle.
Any other jobs you’d like to recommend for introverted fundraisers? Please leave a comment! I’d love to get your take on it.
If you want 65 more fundraising career resources, just go here.
If you want 99 more nonprofit leadership resources, click on over here.
Great post! I would also include special event coordinator to the list. It may seem counterintuitive because events are so public and can involve hundreds or even thousands of participants. However, much of the work involves planning, organizing, and coordinating small details while the CEO takes the stage in front of the crowd.
Thank you so much Allison! You are right! event coordinator works too! 🙂
As an introverted fundraiser myself, I LOVE this post! The roles listed here are definitely so well suited for the introverted fundraiser, and when we get the opportunity to shine in these roles (or any role that allows us to truly be ourselves), it is so rewarding. Great post!