Fundraising is a personal business. For Major Gift Officers (MGOs), planning a one-hour gift request meeting can involve many hours of advance research and document creation. However, behind successful meetings lie truly meaningful donor relationships. Requesting charitable dollars necessitates more than sending a charismatic, energetic CEO or MGO. Every donor is a unique puzzle, as each is compelled to give for different reasons.

Development professionals are detectives, gathering critical bits and pieces of information to build meaningful request strategies. One way MGOs can quickly take their gift requests, and relationship building efforts, to greater effectiveness is by utilizing DiSC assessments. Armed with DiSC fundamentals, MGOs can be strategically paired with donors based on personality type, thereby increasing donor comfort and interest. Additionally, MGOs can make personality-focused observations when meeting with donors or reviewing notes from previous visits. Ultimately, catering to innate personality traits improves major gift requests, as donors will feel genuinely heard and appreciated.

In our latest white paper, we break down the four personality traits in the DiSC model and offer tips on how to best engage donors. The white paper can be downloaded here. Below are some highlights of the piece.

1. Outgoing, People-Centered, Fast-Paced Personalities

D – Dominance Personality Overview

Individuals who are direct, assertive, and fast-paced are dominant personalities. Gifted at rallying groups, challenging the status quo, taking risks, and pushing a team toward a goal, these individuals value the “big picture” and want to know the “what” versus the “how” or “why” of projects.

MGOs should consider:

  • Are they outspoken with their opinions? Quick to act?
  • Are diplomas proudly displayed in their offices denoting academic accomplishments?
  • Were you “fit in” to a very full calendar of meetings and appointments?

To best engage:

  • Meet in a place convenient for the donor.
  • Focus on the plan to achieve the goal and solve the problem.
  • Invite their leadership to push an activity forward.
  • Publicly thank them.

I – Influence Personality Overview

Magnetic, enthusiastic, trusting, and optimistic, influence personalities can be a party looking for a place to happen. While they may not listen intently, their greatest strengths lie in promoting, persuading, prioritizing actions, and energizing groups.

MGOs should consider:

  • Are they quick to talk about their last fun trip or experience?
  • Do they quickly offer friends that they can “get on board?”
  • Do they smile and take an interest in others?

To best engage:

  • Meet in a warm and inviting place.
  • Build rapport by laughing and swapping stories.
  • Be concise. Their attention span is short.
  • Invite them to activities and events.

2. Reserved, Task Oriented, Slow-Paced Personalities 

S – Stable Personality Overview

Steady and patient, stable personalities predictably pursue harmony and cooperation. Avoiding confrontation, these individuals value project details and rely on logic when making decisions.

MGOs should consider:

  • Have they lived in the same town/house/area forever?
  • Will they share their opinion? Or do they need a reassuring invitation?
  • Do they appreciate formal roles and the structure of authority positions?

To best engage:

  • Express sincere interest in them as a person.
  • Offer project details up front to answer “how” questions.
  • Patiently invite feedback and dialogue.

C – Conscientious Personality Overview

Conscientious personalities tend to be questioning, skeptical, and deliberate. Desiring to make a wise decision, conscientious personalities are sometimes perceived as overly analytical, requiring more time and information to accept new ideas.

MGOs should consider:

  • Are they private, keeping their feelings difficult to read?
  • Are they willing to challenge the status quo? Willing to “pokes holes” in seemingly lock-tight plans?
  • Are they data driven? Requiring encouragement to look beyond metrics?

To best engage:

  • Bring specific facts and defined plans (e. architect renderings and blueprints).
  • Demonstrate changes that are organized, well thought out, and well planned.
  • Offer time for analysis and consideration.

How to Start

Major Gift Officers desiring to incorporate personality science into their preparation process can spend time discussing previous visits to start determining a donor’s personality. Also, consider making gift requests in pairs. While one MGO observes, the second MGO can be thoughtfully aligned in personality with the donor. Strategic planning of this precision will result in greater donor knowledge and greater donor satisfaction.

Regardless of personality type, people want to achieve a more meaningful, flourishing life for themselves and for others. Understanding the four distinct personality types, observing individual donors, and actively engaging each in ways that fit their unique make-up will lead to increasingly successful donor cultivation activities and gift requests.

About the Author

Christianna Luy is an Executive Director with CCS and is currently directing the first capital campaign for Make-A-Wish America. A master's graduate of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a Certified Fundraising Executive, Christianna's experience includes driving major gifts strategies, managing capital campaigns, working with boards and volunteer leadership, and writing winning grants for Social-Human Service and Association clients.