Paul is a details guy. He might come off as a little blunt at times, but he’s never been one to sugarcoat things. The good news is that he doesn’t expect you to sugarcoat things, either. Big talk and flattery won’t get you anywhere with Paul. If you have something to share, you need to be ready with the facts and figures to back up your position.

As you may have guessed, Paul exhibits high conformity. While he may understand that emotion is an important part of making a decision, Paul focuses first on systems and processes. Paul describes the world as one big spreadsheet—he is constantly plugging in the information he receives to help him make a more informed decision. To meet Paul where he is in making philanthropic decisions, we need to understand his spreadsheet a little better.

The guide below provides some tips on how to interact most successfully with donors like Paul.

Working with High-Conformity Donors

  1. Answer the “How” Questions

Donors with conformity as their highest behavioral trait ask a lot of “how” questions, such as:

  • How will you accomplish this?
  • How will this program work?
  • How will my dollars be spent?

By proactively answering questions that begin with “how” during your interactions, you will provide the thoughtful details that this donor craves. These donors want to know how your organization accomplishes its mission.

2. Be Ready With Facts

Donors exhibiting high conformity prefers straight talk to “feel-good” platitudes. Already prone to being skeptical, they will trust you more quickly if they perceive that you are honest and straightforward, while providing the details they need. These donors may have already done their own research, and will appreciate hearing from subject-matter experts because it’s important to them to hear solid facts.

3. Be Organized

We never want to be disorganized when we meet with a donor, but we must take special care with donors who exhibit high conformity to be thoroughly prepared to explain relevant systems, or methods the organization will leverage for success of a program or initiative. These donors increase their trust and confidence when they know and believe in the systems that your organization has in place.

Points for Success

  1. Donor Meetings

When donors exhibiting high conformity speak slowly, it is an indication that they are thinking carefully and trying to be as accurate as possible. Make an effort to adapt to their rhythm and give them time to say things their way—and NEVER finish their sentences.

2. Making an Ask

When a question is complex and important, these donors want time to consider their options thoroughly. Don’t talk through the ask! Respect their need for silence. Additionally, be prepared to provide additional details in writing.

3. Stewarding a Contribution

Set clear, logical expectations beforehand and help these donors see how their expectations are being met.

The Professional DynaMetric Profile (PDP) is just one framework that may be helpful for understanding the basic communication styles and preferences of donors. What suggestions do you have for working with donors exhibiting high conformity?