In the simplest terms, fundraising is a meeting of needs. However, it’s more than a transaction between donor and fundraiser: it’s building a community of people with similar interests and goals. An essential part of creating a healthy community is getting to know those who are part of it.
As fundraisers, knowing your donors translates into understanding their individual stories, interests, and needs and seeing how you can help fulfill them. These skills—the ability to connect with donors, understand them, and inspire them to act (either by giving or volunteering)—are embedded in everyday fundraising work and are finely interwoven with emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence and why does it matter?
Emotional Intelligence, or EI, as defined by the Institute for Health and Human Potential is “the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions” as well as “the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.” Essentially, it’s the ability to recognize when our emotions are driving our behavior and how they can impact those around us.
A white paper PUBLISH by the Institute for Health and Human Potential shows that “80% of competencies that differentiate top performers from others are in the domain of EI.”
Emotional intelligence in the fundraising world
So, what does this have to do with fundraising? “Emotional intelligence can make the difference between a good donor interaction and a bad one,” explains Barbara Newhouse, CEO of The Children’s Heart Foundation. “It’s a balance between passion for the cause and good business.”
At its most basic, fundraising boils down to collaborating, building bonds, and inspiring others. All these activities are influenced by the five major components of emotional intelligence characterized by Daniel Goleman, who popularized EI with his book Emotional Intelligence:
Here’s how the five components of EI relate to fundraising:
Fundraising is a give-and-take relationship with donors—understanding the role both parties play in each other’s stories is the way effective fundraisers leverage their emotional intelligence to fulfill both donor and organizational needs.
Interested in learning more about EI in the workplace? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.