Two Sides of a Coin: Salespeople and Fundraisers


When it comes to fundraisers, we try to differentiate ourselves from the cliché salespeople that we all know and loathe. However, as much as we can dichotomize the two professions, we have to understand that there are some strong similarities within both fields that we simply cannot overlook.

In an interesting Harvard Business Review piece titled, What Makes Great Salespeople, I could not help but correlate the two professions. Whether it is from the operational side or from the internal visions, salespeople and fundraises work are simply two sides of the same coin. While the end goal for each job may be different, the mentality and work ethics involve is incredibly similar for both positions.

Let’s start with customer engagement. As a salesperson, their job is simply not just to sell their product to their customer, but also to engage with their customers on various factors. This includes educating the customer on their products and services, talking with the customer, interacting with the customer’s account, and last but not least evaluating and researching the customer’s campaign. Similar to salespeople, we as fundraisers look to provide strong customer engagement in both educating them about the service and what their funding can do for our particular cause. In addition, fundraisers look to engage with our customers both short-term and long-term so that we can establish a stronger relationship for future philanthropic campaigns.

Outside of customer engagement, another trait both salespeople and fundraisers share is large internal network. For salespeople, they look into three different categories. The first is a more general aspect, which includes the overall number of relationships within the company and the time and effort spent interacting with their colleagues and their network. Their second refers to their support resources. This includes the set of metrics that focuses on relationship building within the support staff and sales specialist. Last but not least of course deals with management, where a set of metric concentrates on relationships built between the heads of the division and the salespeople on the floor. Similar to fundraising organizations, fundraisers look to have this general, supportive, and managerial relationship built to allot for successful donor campaigns. This allows fundraisers and the overall company to streamline various content so that their donors can better understand the process and the service that the organization is providing for their causes.

Last but not least, both salespeople and fundraisers require a strong amount of energy and passion in both their communication with their customers and donors. When asking for money, whether it is for a product, a service, or a charity, the public on the other end want to talk to someone who is incredibly enthusiastic about the vision and goals of their business. This allows for stronger customer services, well-developed visions, and long lasting customers

From these three principles’ alone, we can clearly see the similarities and resemblance that both professions share in order to be successful. While there are many more traits that we can compare, we can thoroughly understand that in order to be a strong fundraiser, you need to be a strong salesperson. Only then will you be able to see the success necessary for your cause to grow.