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The Authenticity Factor for Fundraisers

nonprofit fundraising

Authenticity is a buzzword that is often thrown around in the workplace. The idea of being true to oneself and bringing one's whole self to work is becoming increasingly popular, if not expected.

Of course the authenticity factor is incredibly important for nonprofit fundraisers in their work with donors and prospects. It builds trust and strengthens connection. However, there is a fine line between being authentic and oversharing.

Authenticity in your fundraising work means being genuine and true to yourself when engaging with donors and prospects. It means showing up as the real you and not putting on a façade or pretending to be someone you're not. Authenticity involves being transparent about your thoughts, feelings, and opinions, as well as your strengths and weaknesses.

Bringing your authentic self to your asking work is essential for building trust and fostering positive relationships. When you're authentic, people are more likely to connect with you on a personal level and trust that you have their best interests in mind.

Authenticity doesn't mean you should reveal every detail of your personal life or share your innermost thoughts and feelings with your donors and prospects. There are professional boundaries that need to be respected. Oversharing can lead to negative consequences.

Oversharing in your work as a fundraiser involves revealing too much personal information or sharing opinions that are better left unsaid. Oversharing can make others feel uncomfortable or put them in an awkward position. It can also negatively impact relationships and lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Oversharing can take many forms. It could be revealing intimate details of your personal life, discussing sensitive topics such as politics or religion, sharing negative opinions about others or your organization, talking about personal problems, or airing grievances in public.

There are several consequences of oversharing at work. It can damage your professional reputation as a fundraiser. When you reveal too much personal information, people may see you as lacking in discretion. This can impact your ability to be taken seriously in your work or get more yeses to your requests.

Oversharing can also lead to strained relationships. When you reveal too much personal information, those you're working with may feel uncomfortable or not know how to respond. This can create tension or even lead to conflict as well as undermine your credibility and trustworthiness.

So how can you be authentic in your work without oversharing? Here are some tips to help you strike the right balance.

  • Know your donors and prospects. Before sharing personal information or opinions, consider who you are talking to and what their relationship is to you. Some may be more open to personal conversations, while others may prefer to keep things strictly professional.
  • Be mindful of your tone. When sharing personal information or opinions, be aware of your tone of voice and body language. Make sure you come across as confident and self-assured, rather than anxious or defensive.
  • Respect professional boundaries. Remember that there are professional boundaries that need to be respected, even when being authentic. Be aware of topics that are off-limits or may make others uncomfortable.
  • Practice active listening. When donors and prospects share personal information with you, listen actively and offer support and empathy. This can help build trust and strengthen connection.

The goal here is to be true to yourself while also being mindful of the impact your actions and words have on others. 

The authenticity factor matters for nonprofit fundraisers. Be real. Be honest. Be available. Be present. Only then can you build relationships, serve others, and inspire action.

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