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The Art of Engaging Your Networks | Fundraising Self-Identification Exercise

Filed in Relationship Advancement — August 4, 2020

In our blog we’ve pulled back the veil on our approach and methodologies through a largely ‘plug and play’ resources and Masterclasses so you can skillfully engage the funding partners your mission deserves.

Black Fox Global

Welcome to the Blog

Black Fox Fundraising Handbook

open source download


Recognizing that less-resourced NGOs can’t afford to engage our fundraising services, one of the ways Black Fox Philanthropy serves the social sector is to be open-source on much of the content we’ve developed.  We regularly release this content via our blog, and today is another one of those days! 

Note this blog is a good companion to our previous blog entitled Building a Fundraising Board: Recruiting and On-Boarding New Board Members


by Natalie Rekstad, Founder & CEO of Black Fox Philanthropy, B Corp


A core ingredient in developing a successful fundraising culture is for each team member to identify, not if, but how they are a fundraiser:  Asker, Connector, or Nurturer.  Gaining clarity around a dominant type enables them to stretch the boundaries of their comfort zone without going completely into unnatural territory.  This also enables the development staff to quarterback the staff and allies most effectively in roles that maximize their unique strengths.

We’ve developed a system by which folks self-identify their fundraising style via the Self-ID exercise featured here.  You can download a PDF here: BFP Self ID Exercise



Rate how you identify with each role in the order of one through three, one being your most dominant type, three being your least dominant type. 

Asker – Making the Ask 

Personality: Self-assured, charming, success-oriented, resourceful, assertive, and decisive. May show preference for extroversion. 

At Your Best: Self-accepting, authentic, charitable, role models who inspire others. You believe in yourself and your own value. You have a resourceful, “can do” attitude and passionate inner drive. 

Examples: Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Connector – Opening the Door/Making an Introduction 

Personality: Optimistic, versatile, playful, and practical. You pursue what you want in life with a cheerful determination. You are frequently endowed with a quick, agile mind, and can be an exceptionally fast learner. May show preference for extroversion or adapted introversion. 

At Your Best: You focus your talents on worthwhile goals, cross-fertilizing areas of interest. 

Examples: The Dalai Lama, Benjamin Franklin, John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, Timothy Leary, Bette Midler 

Nurturer – Stewardship 

Personality: Empathetic, sincere, warm-hearted, and friendly. You are encouraging, nurturing, appreciative, able to see the good in others ~ a truly loving person. You feel it is a privilege to be in the lives of others. May show preference for Introversion. 

At Your Best: Unselfish and altruistic, have unconditional love for others. You are deeply unselfish, humble, and altruistic. 

Examples: Guru Ammaji (“The Hugging Saint”), Bishop Desmond Tutu, Danny Glover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ann Landers, Gone with the Wind’s “Melanie Hamilton Wilkes” 

Extrapolated from Enneagram Personality Types
Developed by Black Fox Philanthropy, LLC 


Further, Black Fox Philanthropy has developed Openers and Asks that are suited to each type of fundraiser; however, note that each of us are all three types but have a dominant type that is our “Zone of Genius.”  Because we are varying degrees of all types, you can pull from each of the Openers and Asks if they more resonate with your personality.

It is also important to note that the span of time from the Opener to the Ask could be short, within one meeting, or it may take several conversations and months for the timing to be right for an informed* ask.  

ASKERS:  Asset in key funder meetings, particularly with High Net Worth (HNW).  Leverage a Peer-to-Peer mindset.  Should familiarize self with “Leading the Donor Dance” to ensure funder is doing 70% of the talking.  Pair well with Nurturers, but forthrightness should be balanced with Nurturer strengths of nurturing the relationship.  

The Opener:

“What originally drew me to this work is X.  I can’t help but notice you have a similar mindset around (your issue area or whatever is true for that person and you that ties in your mission).  There’s a lot at stake, and I think there is something there worth exploring — are you up for a lunch in the coming weeks?”

“My core belief is that the future hinges upon a more just and gender-balanced world.  I’m doing what I can to bring this to life within our lifetimes and I’d love to talk with you about what that looks like.”

The Ask:  

“If I were to ask you to make a transformational gift of $X, what would you need to know to say yes?”

“I invite you to join me on this journey by joining the Impact Circle, a community of our most engaged members.  Funding gender equality at this level is a real stake in the ground  – $X level for 3 years. Will you join us?” (Fall silent and await a response.)


CONNECTORS:  Hosting gatherings for the organization, assembling host committee for larger gatherings.  Putting people and ingredients in place for optimal outcome.

Bringing enthusiasm to conversations about your organization and its mission, drawing people in with passion and vision. 

The Opener:

“I’ve been on this powerful journey with DFW and its been transformative. I was in a conversation with the Founder/Board Chair the other day (or in a board meeting) discussing X, and I thought of you because…X.

The Ask:

Your mission is serious, but you can still be playful if it fits your personality:  “I sincerely think that being part of the Impact Circle (or other giving name/level) could be a powerful journey for you as well.  I will be inconsolable if you don’t say yes to meeting with the Founder and me, and discussing the power of the Impact Circle toward our shared vision of (your issue area).”

“I hold a vision — and (org) holds the key to realizing this vision —  of a day when all women are given equal opportunities to thrive within our lifetimes (insert your mission).  I’d like to connect you to the Founder to see if this is something you could also help bring about.  Can I set that up for the two of you in the coming weeks?”


NURTURERS:  Generally hide under the table during fundraising conversations, however:  very heart-centered, great stewards of existing relationships. The truth is there is a lot of funding in loving your donors.  Expanding network of your organization via deepening relationships with existing funders (increasing funding), encouraging existing supporters to open their networks with “soft ask”.  If there is great discomfort in making any form of ask, name it.  “This is the part that makes me very uncomfortable, but it’s the most sacred part of my role on the board.  So I’m going to take a deep breath and do it anyway.”

The Opener:

Sharing the story of your organization with their own networks in a heart-centered way, and/or sharing their “why” the work is personally significant. 

“We just came off of an amazing board retreat and I’m deeply moved by the stories of transformation.  Can I tell you some stories of impact that have touched my heart, and are changing so many lives including my own?”

I just had a conversation with a fellow board member/Founder/other about this work, and a light bulb went off for me around why this matters so deeply to me personally, and why it matters on a global scale.  I’m eager to share some insights — would you be open to a conversation over lunch?”

The Ask:

“What would it need to look like for you to join me in bringing about gender equality in our lifetimes (insert your mission)?”

“I would love to invite you to join us, but I’m not sure where to go next in terms of making a financial ask.  The minimum for joining the Impact Circle is $10,000 per year for 3 years, yet some folks are landing in the $25,000 range.  Based upon all we’ve discussed, where do you see yourself?”


We wish great success in transforming your board into the fundraising board your mission so deserves.

*Ideally informed by the funder.  Refer to Leading the Donor Dance or Strengthening Funder Relationships to uncover the funder’s connection to your mission.