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The Likeability Factor

IF YOU'RE GOAL IS TO RECRUIT NEW GIFT OFFICERS for your advancement office, the likeability factor could be the single most important consideration – greater even than a person’s ability to do his or her job.

Congeniality impacts a gift officer’s capacity to get along with colleagues, to fit with the institution as a whole and to succeed in building relationships and generating gifts. All critical, wouldn’t you agree?

While a résumé yields clues to a person’s basic job qualifications and experience, what clues do you look for to determine “best fit” or likeability?

There are an exponential number of factors that impact likeability – many of which would be difficult to determine in one or two meetings. In order to pare down the numerous variables, here are four points to ponder for the identification of clues to likeability during a phone or face-to-face interview or even over lunch:

1. Self-awareness
a. How would the person respond given a particular situation?
b. How does the person come across to you?
c. How would the person come across to others (colleagues, Board members, donors)?
2. Self-management
a. How would the person control his or her emotions given a particular situation?
b. Does the person favor an emotional reaction or a rational response?
3. Relationship management
a. Would the person be a strong team leader or collaborator?
b. How would he or she manage conflict between colleagues? Donors?
c. Could the person take part in training others?
4. Social consciousness
a. Does the person possess a keen awareness of the organization, its culture and its value system?
b. To what degree is the person focused on service to the community?
c. How well does the person show empathy towards the community, the people served by the organization and the people contributing to the organization?

If a person is significantly lacking in self-awareness, self-management, relationship management or social consciousness, he or she may not be the “best fit”, regardless of lively personality and extensive work experience or knowledge.

Give the likeability factor the respect it is due. You’ll build a team of motivated, industrious and discerning professionals whose camaraderie is revered and whose mutual interest in helping donors meet their philanthropic goals through supporting your institution is celebrated.


Amy Etheridge is president of Giving Leadership Opportunity (GLO), a professional resource for personal, customized nonprofit and business consulting services. GLO is committed to creating growth opportunities for organizations as they seek to achieve their missions and fulfill their community promise. Contact Amy.

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