Image of a man looking thoughtfully at the camera.

5 Essential Traits for Fundraisers in 2021

Fundraisers play a critical role in their organizations. Without them, nonprofits would not be able to run all their programs or help as many people as they do. But the job of the fundraiser became especially challenging in 2020, forcing many to try new approaches and learn new skills. 

If you’re a fundraising professional or someone who hires them, you might be wondering which traits will be most important for the year ahead. Here are five key qualities fundraisers will need to be successful in 2021 and beyond, along with a few LinkedIn Learning courses you can use to help your team develop and refine these soft skills. 

1. Strong listener 

Since fundraisers deal with people every day, they need to be good communicators. And what skill is at the heart of effective communication? Listening. 

When fundraisers are strong listeners, they’re better able to pick up on subtle cues that can inform their approach and lead to better outcomes. This skill can also help build prospects’ trust, ensuring they feel heard and understood—and making them more likely to want to help. 

Recommended course: Effective Listening. Led by Tatiana Kolovou and Brenda Bailey-Hughes from the Kelley School of Business, this course can help learners become more attentive, empathetic listeners. 

2. Great storyteller

Image of a person speaking and gesturing with their hands.

The best fundraisers are master storytellers, able to confidently weave narratives that help prospects understand your organization’s mission, see how they can fit into it, and feel compelled to act.

Since fundraising is becoming increasingly digital, today’s fundraising professionals need to be comfortable telling stories across multiple mediums—from video calls to emails to live streamed events. While the format is changing, the foundations are the same, signalling that this skill will never go out of style. 

Recommended course: Shane Snow on Storytelling. Journalist Shane Snow breaks down the building blocks of engaging storytelling, from understanding your audience to structuring a narrative effectively.

3. Data-driven

Paying attention to the numbers is incredibly important for fundraisers. By looking at data like historical giving amounts, they’re able to make more informed and strategic decisions to drive even greater success. 

Instincts can take fundraisers far, but data can take them even further. Developing your team’s data fluency will help them keep one eye on the big picture, while also providing them with more tools to improve their day-to-day approach. 

Recommended course: Data Fluency: Exploring and Describing Data. Led by Barton Poulson, founder of, this course can help fundraisers do even more with their data. 

4. Organized

Leads to research. Prospects to follow up with. Relationships to deepen. Fundraisers tend to have a lot of balls in the air at any given time, making it critical for them to stay organized.

When a fundraiser is highly organized, they’re unlikely to miss important touch points with supporters and prospects. This can increase donor satisfaction and ensure no one feels forgotten.

Recommended Learning Path: Improve your Organizational Skills. Featuring courses on mastering time management, managing to-do lists, and more, this Learning Path can help fundraisers get organized and stay on target.

5. Adaptable

Even before the pandemic, the role of the fundraiser was constantly evolving. From the communication methods they use to the strategies that are most effective for engaging modern donors, fundraisers need to be comfortable with change if they want to keep supporting their organizations. 

Modern technology is only accelerating the pace of change, making now the perfect time to help your team refine their skills in this area. 

Recommended Learning Path: Manage Change and Develop Your Adaptability Skills. With courses on cultivating mental agility, building resilience, and more, this Learning Path provides the resources fundraisers need to adapt, adjust, and move forward.

Develop your fundraising team’s skills

These traits were always valuable for fundraisers, but they’re more important now than ever. Helping your team develop their skills in these areas will pay off for years to come—while showing them that you’re invested in their growth and development.

LinkedIn Learning can help, giving your organization access to thousands expert-led, on-demand courses and curated Learning Paths. To learn more, get in touch with our team.