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Grit Grace and Gratitude in hand lettering

Great Fundraisers Need Grit

career donors fundraisers fundraising Dec 05, 2022

This is the first in a three-part series on why fundraisers need gritgrace and gratitude.

I keep this little poster framed in my office, "Grit, Grace & Gratitude," It perfectly sums up what it takes to be a great fundraiser.

The term “grit” isn’t new, but it received more attention when Angela Duckworth released her book by the same name. She describes grit this way:

Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals… Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something…

“Passion and perseverance for long-term goals” are vital traits every fundraiser should posses. Here’s why: As fundraisers, our work is magical and fulfilling. But – spoiler alert! – it can be very challenging. And this era is one especially challenging us all.

Yes, talent, luck and even serendipity play roles in fundraising success. But passion and perseverance goals are key to engaging supporters in our work. A lack of passion, whether for philanthropy, for the nonprofit mission, or for connecting with donors creates inauthentic actions and motivations.

Passion isn’t being emotional or waving one’s arms about. I experience fundraising passion as a deep enthusiasm and joy in our work. Joy and enthusiasm create uplifting emotions that are perceptible to donors, colleagues and others around you.

Perseverance is equally important as passion. As donors move through they world, they see problems to solve all around them. For many, the solutions are deeply entwined with their values. We also know that supporters are busy - with family, work and a myriad of other commitments. A good fundraiser understands we must move in rhythm with a donor's timing, rather than the needs of the nonprofit. Perseverance allows fundraisers to build and nurture donor relationships over years.

A talented fundraiser is able to invite current and prospective donors to be partners in the solution your nonprofit is creating. This is where the magic happens, when a donor moves from observer to partner.

Creating lasting change in the world takes courage and resolve. And sticking around for the work to get done.

Grit is passion and perseverance, courage and resolve. And grit is a key trait of successful and ambitious fundraisers.


Previously published May 3, 2017.

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