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Fundraising Power Skills

Power Skills Are the New Soft Skills

Once upon a time, soft skills such as empathy, integrity, listening, and collaborating were considered nice to have but not necessary for someone to be successful in the hierarchical workplace.

Fundraisers, especially major gift officers, have always been expected to develop trusting relationships with their major gift donors by using such soft skills as:

  • Integrity

  • Compassion

  • Creativity

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication skills

  • Drive

  • Flexibility

  • Teamwork

  • Self-direction

Now, however, across the workplace there is the expectation for leaders to take a more humanistic approach, making these skills necessary skills rather than “nice to have.” There are several reasons why soft skills have morphed into power skills: our dramatically changing demographics, our Covid induced hybrid work arrangements, our increasing concern about our mental health, and our struggle for our salaries to keep up with higher than ever costs of living.

In the nonprofit sector, we are also experiencing an influx of second-career professionals (people from other professions) plus we have a new generation of fundraisers who are expected to have these power skills, and that’s a good thing. The difference is, they expect their bosses to have them, too, and they are not willing to put up with the old hierarchical leadership model.

This is a shift in the way we think about our profession, not an upheaval of the status quo. But the status quo among professional fundraisers is not great. For years, the average tenure for a fundraiser was three years. Now, according to the Job Satisfaction and Workplace Issues in the Fundraising Profession

  • 30 percent of current fundraising professionals indicate they are likely to leave the fundraising field within the next two years

  • Half (51 percent) say it is likely they will leave their current organization within the next two years. (Source: The Association of Fundraising Professionals & The Chronicle of Philanthropy In Conjunction With The Harris Poll)

By focusing on power skills, we can help train the next generation and the second career professionals to be excellent fundraisers.

Click HERE for my infographic on 10 Dimensions of a Great Fundraiser.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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