Nonprofit leaders are often unable to get their board and staff more actively involved in fundraising. For as long as I can remember this has been a popular topic for round table discussions, webinars, conference sessions and more. Suggested solutions often include establishing “give and get” requirements; better/more training; team competitions; clearer expectations; offering rewards and incentives; and more.

Unfortunately, when these don’t produce the desired level of board and staff engagement, it’s tempting for Executive Directors to revert to raising money through special events such as walk-a-thons, galas, silent auctions, dunk tanks, etc. While fundraising special events can play a role in a nonprofit's overall fundraising strategy, one-on-one asking remains the most effective methodology.

Making personal asks allows fundraisers to tailor their message to an individual donor's interests and motivations, making it more likely that they will connect to the cause and be willing to donate. Additionally, one-on-one asks create a sense of intimacy and trust between the fundraiser and the donor, which can lead to larger and more meaningful contributions. However, many staff and volunteers don’t have any experience making a personal ask and don’t feel comfortable (in fact, fear) in that situation.

Instead of expecting volunteers or staff to ask a list of people to give a contribution after a brief training, some brochures and a video year after year, I suggest we reconsider our strategies and engage them in a different way.

What if we learned more about each fundraiser in order to match them with activities that would line up with their natural strengths, thereby giving them a chance to make a valuable contribution to the overall effort while also enjoying the process.  

In his book “The 6 Types of Working Genius”, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes the importance of tapping into each person’s natural gifts (referred to as “geniuses”) to increase their effectiveness and find joy and fulfillment in what they are doing. According to Lencioni, each of us has two areas of Working Genius (natural talents and passions), two Working Competencies (what you do well but don’t bring you joy) and two Working Frustrations (those things you must do, but you avoid because they are draining and unfulfilling)

By recognizing and utilizing each board member's unique areas of genius, you can assign activities and responsibilities that align with their talents and passions, ultimately increasing their engagement and contribution to the organization. Additionally, fostering a collaborative environment where board members can work together based on their individual Working Geniuses can lead to more effective and impactful fundraising efforts.

How the 6 Types of Working Genius Can Enhance Fundraising

  1. Wonder: Fundraising often requires a sense of curiosity and wonder about the community needs and how additional funding can help your organization meet those needs. Individuals who have the Genius of Wonder can pose questions that help them learn more about your donors and prospects, match their unique interests with new opportunities to support, and see things from different perspectives.

  2. Invention: The Genius of Invention is crucial in fundraising because it involves coming up with creative and innovative ways to attract and cultivate donors as well as how to connect their interests with your organization’s needs. Individuals with the Genius of Invention may be able to think outside the box and come up with new strategies, appeals and opportunities that will capture the attention and heart of potential donors.

  3. Discernment: People with the Genius of Discernment are essential to helping organizations and individuals make good decisions. This innate gift can help fundraisers identify which donors to target, proper timing for making an ask, and which appeals are likely to motivate donors to give.

  4. Galvanizing: Galvanizing involves rallying people around a common cause and inspiring action. Fundraisers with the Genius of Galvanizing can mobilize donors, volunteers, and staff members to work together towards a fundraising goal.

  5. Enablement: Individuals with the Genius of Enablement can empower others to succeed and provide the support they need to do their best work. In fundraising, enablement can involve coaching volunteers, providing training for staff members, or creating resources that help donors get involved.

  6. Tenacity: Fundraising can be challenging at times, and fundraisers need to have the tenacity to persevere through setbacks and obstacles. The Genius of Tenacity can help fundraisers stay focused on their goals and keep pushing forward, even when faced with seemingly overwhelming challenges.

If you’d like to learn more about The 6 Types of Working Genius, you can read the book, or reach out to me to learn more – including how I can help you implement this strategy with your volunteer or staff team.




This month, DBD Group is sharing the lessons and insights we've gleaned from our reading. One of our core axioms is to never stop learning and as a team, we read a lot! Whether we're revisiting lessons from old favorites or diving into a new bestseller, we love to share what we learn. Let us know what you're reading in the comments section. We're always ready for a new read!                                                                    

Posted by Michele Goodrich
Michele Goodrich

Written by Michele Goodrich

Since joining the DBD team in 2010, Michele Goodrich has provided resource development counsel to youth-focused, arts and cultural, health-related and educational nonprofit organizations throughout the country. Her extensive and diverse experience in nonprofit leadership positions makes it possible for her to tailor her approach to each nonprofit client’s set of circumstances as well as its unique culture and distinct strengths.

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