Why EQ Skills Are Essential in Fundraising

Why EQ Skills Are Essential in Fundraising

When it comes to philanthropic giving, people usually let their heart lead the way. They give to causes that they have a personal connection to, that tug at their heartstrings, or that inspire hope or joy. Emotions play a major role in giving decisions, making emotional intelligence (EQ)—the ability to pick up on, control, and evaluate emotions—an essential skill for fundraising professionals. 

While some people naturally have higher EQ than others, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed and refined over time. Here’s why EQ is so valuable in fundraising.

People with high EQ are good at active listening

When people are highly attuned to the emotions of others, they’re more likely to pay attention to non-verbal cues, like their tone of a person’s voice or their body language. This is a core aspect of active listening, a technique which involves focusing intently when someone is talking in order to absorb and understand the full meaning of what they’re saying. When fundraisers practice this technique, it can help them pick up on the unspoken thoughts and feelings behind a person’s words, opening the door to new opportunities and allowing for more relevant lines of questioning. 

Practicing active listening on a regular basis can help your team develop their EQ skills. The key is to try and shut out distractions—like thinking about how you’re going to respond—and give your full attention to the person speaking. 

EQ, empathy, and self-awareness go hand in hand

A man and woman sitting cross-legged on a sandy beach. The man is talking and the woman is listening intently.

In his foundational book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, psychologist Daniel Goleman described empathy and self-awareness as two of the five components of EQ. These traits are often critical in fundraising. 

Being able to see things from another person’s perspective allows fundraisers to navigate conversations more successfully to get to the desired outcome. And in order to step into someone else’s shoes, they first need to have a good sense of their own emotions and perceptions.

Deploying EQ can encourage others to take action

Fundraisers who are adept at developing emotional connections with prospects and spotting subtle cues are well positioned to gently nudge them toward taking action, like making a major gift or sponsoring an event. 

For example, a fundraiser with high EQ may immediately recognize the right moment (and, just as importantly, the wrong moment) to make a request. They may also be acutely aware of when to use data and when to tell an emotional story to inspire action. 

High EQ makes it easier to handle objections and rejections

No matter how good a fundraiser is at their job, not every prospect will convert. EQ can also help your team handle rejection with grace, since it allows people to better manage and modulate their emotions. That way, they can ensure their disappointment isn’t felt by the prospect, allowing them to leave the door open for future conversations. 

This skill can also come in handy when a prospect or existing donor poses a challenging question or objection. Fundraisers with high EQ can navigate bumps in the road smoothly and calmly, helping them preserve the relationship and steer the conversation back onto surer ground.

Master the art of EQ

EQ is one of those skills that will never go out of style—especially in a highly emotion-driven field like fundraising. That means that investing in this skill will continue paying off for your nonprofit for years to come.

LinkedIn Learning can help you develop your fundraising team’s EQ skills and support their professional growth. You’ll find courses on emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and listening, as well as thousands of other hard and soft skills. To learn more about how LinkedIn Learning can support your nonprofit’s workforce, get in touch with our team.

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Sales Blog article Top B2B Leaders Agree: EQ Skills are Essential, authored by Christopher Lloyd Chang