Chris likes to cut to the chase and doesn’t like to waste time. He owns several businesses and is highly entrepreneurial. He’s made a few conservative gifts to his alma mater, but has the capacity to give much more after he sees how the university uses the funds. Most of all, he wants the development professional to be direct, succinct, and give him the freedom to choose from a variety of philanthropic options.

Donors like Chris are:

  • Decisive decision makers
  • Not into “small talk”
  • Focused on results
  • Motivated by control and authority

There’s no “one size fits all” approach to working with any individual, let alone a donor exhibiting high dominance, but there are a few general guidelines that might be helpful.

Working with Donors Exhibiting High Dominance

  1. Limit small talk

Donors exhibiting dominance as their highest behavior trait will see small talk as a waste of time. It is not that they are non-caring individuals; it’s that they are motivated by results. The more quickly the “business” is taken care of, the more comfortable they will feel.

2. Be prepared to answer “what” questions

It’s likely you already prepare for donor meetings by anticipating the donor’s needs and anticipating the questions he or she may ask. Be especially prepared to answer “what” questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What demographic will this help?
  • What resources do you need and what do you want from me?

3. Don’t bog them down with details

External controls and trivial interferences may be demotivating for these donors. They are interested in results. Focus on the facts and do a high-level rundown of how you’ll get there. If they want to know more of the details, you can be sure they’ll ask.

Points for Success

  1. Securing Appointments

These donors are likely to have a large network; they also probably enjoy meeting new people. It can be very effective to utilize mutual connections (perhaps volunteers) to arrange introductions.

2. Making an Ask

Be sure to keep written communications brief. Does your email fit in the window of your iPhone screen? If not, it may be too long.

3. Stewarding a Contribution

This donor likes directness. There is no need to soften the ask with donors who prefer straightforward communication. When you are proposing an action, provide two or three options so the donor doesn’t feel bogged down with extraneous details, but can still make a decision.