May 3, 2016



Written By: Bruce

By Bruce Berglund

Over the last few years, the term “grit” has been popping up in books, podcasts and lectures. It seems that grit, as it relates to leadership in popular business culture, is associated with themes of courage, follow-through and resilience.

I would also suggest that the best fundraisers I’ve had the privilege of working with have this thing called grit. From my perspective, those who have “true grit” related to our philanthropic work also have the following characteristics:

  • They are not lone wolves. They surround themselves with great leaders who can get things done. They don’t “settle” as they recruit leadership.
  • They are not easily dissuaded. They know that no does not mean never!
  • They know about and plan for “dips” in their campaigns. These dips are characterized by loss of momentum with some questioning if the campaign can be accomplished. They power through these dips with the leaders they have recruited and encouraged.
  • They have the courage to develop an urgent case for support. They aren’t afraid to revamp or reimagine the story of their mission and service, even if this means departing from the case that has driven results for years (but showing signs of slowing).
  • They know when to change tactics. They are self and organizationally aware enough to pivot their case and message when necessary.
  • They are patient. They know cultivation and stewardship takes time, and they don’t rush relationship-building.
  • They know when to attract rather than pursue. They have the resolve not to chase money but rather serve up a compelling and wonderful case which attracts donors to their cause.
  • They are optimistic. And perhaps above all, they look for solutions rather than problems, and leave their staff, volunteers and donors with hope!


Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without feeling happier.
Mother Teresa

Have you known some “gritty” leaders in your time? Have you learned to foster your own grit? What qualities would you add to my list?

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4 responses to “Grit”

  1. Scott Goyer says:

    They are genuine. They do not play games and what you see is what you get.

    They listen well. “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” Proverbs 18:13

  2. Robyn Furness-Fallin says:

    They care deeply about those who will ultimately benefit – youth, their community , etc. – those things matter a great deal to them.

    They beieve in the power of giving and the wonders of generosity and gratitude.

    • Bruce Bruce Berglund says:


      Thanks for adding to the list! Love your phrase “the power of giving and the wonders of generosity and gratitude.”