A woman smiling, looking at a colleague with his back to the camera, while both stand inside a building lobby.

AI Skills and More: 7 Essential Traits for Fundraisers in 2024

Fundraisers play a critical role in their organizations. Without them, nonprofits would not be able to run all of their programs or help as many people as they do. But the job of the fundraiser has grown more challenging in the past few years, reshaped by the forces of rapid digitization and wavering economic trends.

The flip side is that nonprofit fundraisers now have more technology at their disposal than ever, including AI-assisted tools. In order to make the most of these tools and thrive in this new era of work, fundraisers will need to focus on developing and honing the right traits and abilities on their teams. 

This moment calls for an understanding of how to leverage new technologies effectively, paired with a focus on the distinctly human skills that make fundraising efforts feel authentic and personal.

Whether you’re a fundraising professional or want to know where best to invest in your team, these are the traits worth focusing on. If you use LinkedIn Learning as part of your talent development strategy, we’ve also included some course recommendations to help you get started building in-demand skills.

Focus on these 7 traits for nonprofit fundraising

1. AI innovator

AI fundraising tools hold great promise for nonprofits — and getting started with these tools may be easier than you think. The 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report from LinkedIn and Microsoft found that 75% of knowledge workers already use AI at work, with 90% of users saying it helps them save time and 84% saying it allows them to be more creative. 

Generative AI can help streamline and enhance many day-to-day fundraising tasks, including donor research and outreach. As such, fundraising pros who are adept at using AI technology may find themselves at an advantage going forward — and have more time to focus on the most strategic and rewarding aspects of their work. 

Recommend learning path: Productivity with Generative AI. Learn how to apply generative AI skills to your work to boost your productivity with this free learning path from Microsoft and LinkedIn, unlocked through 2025. 

2. Expert communicator

Communication ranked number one on LinkedIn’s 2024 list of the most in-demand skills. This enduring skill only continues to grow in importance as AI enters the workplace.

As a fundraiser, clear and persuasive communication is instrumental to making your cause resonate with potential donors and decision makers. As you incorporate more AI tools into your fundraising workflow, the ability to communicate effectively with AI can also help you to generate better results. 

Recommended course: Strategic Selling: How to Communicate with the C-Suite and Decision Makers. Within this sales-focused guidance from Meridith Powell, you’ll find plenty of helpful tips on researching decision makers, making your case, and speaking in terms that executives care about.

3. Strong listener

Strong listening skills and effective communication tend to go hand in hand. Fundraisers who are good listeners are better equipped to pick up on subtle cues that can inform their approach and lead to better outcomes. 

Developing and demonstrating your listening skills can also help you to build prospects’ trust. When people feel heard and understood, they’re more likely to want to help. 

Recommended course: Active Listening: The Secret to Effective Communication. Gain in-depth insight into the art of listening from Ximena Vengoechea, author of the book Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection.

4. Great storyteller

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

With fundraising moving increasingly online, today’s fundraising professionals need to be comfortable telling stories across multiple mediums, from video calls to emails. While the format is evolving, the foundations are the same, signaling that this skill will never go out of style. 

Recommended course: Amplifying Your Message Through Powerful Framing and Storytelling. This audio-only course features a conversation between Pete Mockaitis and author Rene Rodriguez on crafting influential narratives.

5. Agile and adaptable

The 2024 most in-demand skills list from LinkedIn identified adaptability as the top “skill of the moment.” For fundraising professionals, the need to stay agile and adaptable may feel especially acute right now. 

Global research from LinkedIn for Nonprofits found that 56% of surveyed nonprofit professionals across all levels feel the pressure to find new donors has increased in the current economic climate. And with 57% of respondents expressing concern that they have maxed out their options to source new donors, being open to trying new approaches may be crucial.

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 to help you adapt, adjust, and move forward in times of change. 

6. Driven by data

Paying attention to the numbers is incredibly important for fundraisers. By keeping one eye on both historical data and emerging trends, you can make more informed and strategic decisions — and be better positioned to spot opportunities on the horizon. 

Instincts can take fundraisers far, but data can take them even further. Developing your team’s data fluency can give them more insight into 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 datalab.cc, this course can help fundraisers do even more with their data.

7. Always organized

Prospects to research. Decision makers 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.

Highly organized fundraisers are less likely to miss important touchpoints with supporters and prospects, helping to increase donor engagement and satisfaction. Incorporating time-saving AI tools into your workflow may make it easier to stay organized by taking some of the busywork off your plate. 

Recommended learning path: Improve Your Organizational Skills. Featuring courses on effective time management and more, this collection of courses can help fundraisers get organized and stay on target.

Develop your fundraising team’s skills

As we enter the age of artificial intelligence in the workplace, balancing AI fluency with essential soft skills like communication can help set you and your fundraising team up for long-term success. Helping your team develop the key skills and traits they’ll need to thrive in this new world of work can not only improve your nonprofit’s fundraising performance, but also demonstrate your commitment to employee growth and professional development. 

To learn more about how LinkedIn Learning can help you build a thriving, adaptable nonprofit workforce, get in touch with our team.