DickersonBakker Blog

A perfect fundraising career for introverts

I have a love-hate relationship with personality tests. Understanding yourself is essential to choosing the right career path, and personality tests can provide some enlightening insights. But they may also discourage you from exploring a field because their unique color-coded scoring system suggests that it isn’t right for you. This happened to me. My first professional role was in financial aid for my university alma mater. I often interacted with development staff and decided that my dream job would be a major gift officer where I could engage with loyal alumni across the country. When a position opened, I was the first to apply, take the required personality evaluation, and sit through interviews. I was devastated when I didn’t get the job. My test results revealed that I was on the far end of the introversion spectrum. Although it was clear that I had a heart for the college’s mission and meeting donors, they didn’t want to risk hiring someone who might hole up in an office and never pick up the phone. I accepted the realities of my disposition and decided that fundraising wasn’t the career for me. Years later, I learned about a role in fund development that would be perfect for me – the grants officer.

If you’re an introvert like me, these are some reasons why being a grants officer might be the perfect career for you too.

  1. Introverts are great listeners. Being a good listener allows people to empathize and gain insights into the feelings of others. Because introverts process internally, they hear, understand, and make insightful observations about the needs of society. They pick up valuable perspectives on a nonprofit’s work and intuition into their clients’ lives. These qualities naturally allow introverts to express elegantly written cases of support that will enlighten and intrigue funders, and they are important attributes for a grants officer.
  • Introverts are focused and studious. They are highly inquisitive with a desire to understand everything they can about a problem or idea. This eagerness to learn helps introverts become experts in topics they’re writing about. Because the typical grant professional’s days are often spent alone for hours of intense research and writing in lengthy periods of deep concentration, a career in grants is ideal for those who thrive in this type of work environment.
  • Introverts are excellent translators. Innately observant, they can take in large volumes of information on complex subjects and then craft clear, thoughtful narratives that fit into the application’s required word counts. Grant review boards appreciate objective, well-constructed cases for why they should fund an organization, and introverts have a natural aptitude for writing compelling proposals about solutions to the world’s most challenging problems.
  • Introverts relate well to other introverts. Key sections of grant applications are created by professionals working in jobs also well-suited for introverts. Accountants help build the budget and supply required financial statements. Program specialists design the project’s logic model, need statement, and evaluation plan. Introverts are skilled at noticing introvert qualities in others and understand their need for processing time and space to get requests completed, ensuring more harmonious relationships between all members of the grants team.
  • Introverts are masters of one-on-one relationships. Unlike some fundraising professionals, grant officers don’t make their most important contacts at networking events. Foundation staff can be social and engaging, but for obvious reasons, they may tend to avoid large, public affairs where fundraisers are present. Introverts are selectively social and inclined to make deep connections with fewer people. With a natural instinct to keep information in strict confidence, they often form lasting, trusted relationships with program officers.

If you’re an introvert and want to learn more about the grant profession, I’d love to chat…just don’t invite me to your golf outing.

To learn more about DickersonBakker & our grant services, contact us today to get started.

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