Institute for Charitable Giving

There Are 12 Characteristics Most Important to Success

I know all of the great fundraisers I interviewed for my book. I worked with all of them. I believe I know what makes them tick.

The characteristics I’m going to identify resulted from a study that George Gallup Jr. conducted among 1,000 men and women he considered to be, “the most successful in their field.” I’ve seen that list of 1,000, and I just can’t imagine I could add anyone to that roster.

Gallup says that he has listed these characteristics in the order of their priority.

  1. Common sense (note, he did not say intelligence)
  2. Special knowledge of your field
  3. Self-reliance
  4. General intelligence
  5. Ability to get things done
  6. Quality of leadership
  7. Knowing right from wrong
  8. Creativity and inventiveness
  9. Self-confidence
  10. Oral expression
  11. Concern for others
  12. Luck

But wait. Many of these correspond to my list that I uncovered in my interviews. But not all. I have some to add. Gallup said, “knowing right from wrong.” It’s one thing to know it. It’s another to practice it. Leading my list was Impeccable Integrity. That means knowing it and living it.

Gallup says, “oral expression.” I would have listed that also before I did my interviewing. What came out second in importance among those I interviewed was Listening. And now through the years, I am all the more convinced that listening is one of the major factors a fundraiser must bring to the art.

Don’t lose sight of Gallup’s list. Record it somewhere. But let me give you my list of the top twelve in the order I found them.

  1. Impeccable Integrity
  2. Being a good listener
  3. Ability to motivate
  4. Hard worker
  5. Concern for people
  6. High expectations
  7. Love the work
  8. High energy
  9. Perseverance
  10. Presence
  11. Self-confidence
  12. Common sense

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