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The 3 donor stories to have

Storytelling is important in almost every industry. The stakes have never been greater than storytelling during interviews. In preparation for interviews, particularly for fundraising roles it is important to reflect on the best stories and examples of your work with donors. Here are 3 stories that inevitably come up in every interview:

  • The largest gift you have ever solicited, on your own

This story demonstrates your experience with large gifts and many hiring managers use it as a proxy for complex gifts. Beyond the amount, it is important to demonstrate your comfort with it and ideally a long-term path to the gift. This shows your understanding of relationship building and your staying power. Large gifts usually take a few people to close though, so if you had to choose between a very large gift where you were part of a team that worked/supported the solicitation or a smaller yet substantial gift you independently worked on. Go for independent work.

  • A donor relationship you developed through the entire philanthropy cycle

This is truly an important story that demonstrates the depth of your skills. It also shows your ability to stay long enough to see gifts through and your skills at every stage of the process. 

  • The gift when something didn’t quite go the way it was supposed to

If you have been in fundraising long enough, you have encountered an upset donor or a challenging solicitation or a contentious stewardship issue. This is the story that demonstrates how you handle situations that don’t go as planned. Beyond the issue and whose fault it was, how it was resolved and the ultimate outcome is what turns this story around. 

 

When preparing for an interview (or in general), try to have these stories explained in 30 seconds or less so you don’t risk rambling on about the donor’s background or internal organizational issues. Beyond the story it is important to identify the skills that made you succeed in each situation and what you are particularly proud of. 

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