CDE project 14 appen­dix 4: insight profiling

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 22, 2017

The Insights Discovery model

Insight Discovery is a model that measures behavioural preferences. It uses a system of four colours to describe different styles of behaviour. Brief descriptions of the four colours are:

Fiery red – A style that is high in assertion, drive, bold and straightforward communication, a preference for taking charge, getting things initiated and being brave. People high in fiery red energy are comfortable being in charge, leading others and, when they play, they play to win.

Sunshine yellow – A style that is high in positivity, sociability, warmth and ease with people. Those with a strong preference for this colour enjoy engaging with and influencing others, tend to have strong communication skills, are outgoing and enjoy team working and the social side of life.

Earth green – A style driven by the desire to enable others and facilitate development and success. People high in earth green energy are skilful at listening, identifying needs, building relationships slowly and meaningfully and giving and receiving trust. They have a strong preference for rolling their sleeves up and getting things done pragmatically and competently.

Cool blue – A style that is high in analysing, questioning, doing things to a high standard, getting things done right and focusing on detail. Those with a strong preference for cool blue are socially more formal, deep thinkers, comfortable with complex data and skilled at spotting flaws and errors that may hamper excellence.

Colour energies working together

When we come to work we can show up with one, two or three preferred colour energies. We have access to all of them, yet choose that which is appropriate depending on our work and our innate preference. 55% of the population have a ‘classic’ profile – that is, the preferred use of two colour energies that are well within our ability. Some of us have a ‘focused’ profile whereby we are dominated by one of the colour energies. If you have an ‘accommodator’ profile, three colour energies are used. Whilst this often e nables us to be adept at more types of behaviour, it can also be stressful, by definition, we will be pulling on two opposite energies. Prolonged use of three energies can be difficult to maintain.

Uses of the Insights Discovery profiling tool

All behavioural models are limited and thus need careful use. The best use of the tool is in teams in order to understand the strengths and potential development areas of team members to ensure the team works well and draws on all its resources. It is also very useful for interpersonal challenges pertaining to relationships that have become difficult or in building a relationship from scratch. After that people need to be allowed to be ‘whole’ people, not a collection of letters or colours.

The model is not useful in recruitment – many candidates would fill in the evaluator according to what they think the recruiter is seeking - this is not dishonest, just pragmatic. The model does not test aptitude - it tests preferred behaviour, making it less useful as a guide in recruitment.

We have included wheels of individuals from several fundraising disciplines as an interesting way of attempting to see whether the fundraising technique drives the preferred behaviour of individuals within that function. These diagrams can also be an indicative of the type of individuals who are drawn to different fundraising functions. In terms of using the model in fundraising teams, it is useful for managers to understand what drives their fundraisers and how they would like to be managed in the light of this in order to get the best out of them.

Insights, colour energies and fundraising disciplines

From our profiling, we can see the following themes: 

Individual Giving

Individual Giving – In this group, we observed a variety and a real mix of preferences. It takes all sorts to make an individual-giving fundraiser! We can observe a preference for feeling rather than for thinking, which may be manifested in how fundraisers work to influence donors – in other words, they are likely to be more comfortable winning hearts than heads.

Corporate fundraisers

Corporate fundraisers have a stronger preference for earth green and sunshine yellow energies, making them natural relationship builders. They can be more introverted or more extraverted but, either way, they will have strong people skills, be able to listen well, respond to needs and build genuine and enjoyable relationships with donors. They may have to work harder to assert themselves when they need to or to knuckle down to measure and evaluate their fundraising. They have a strong ability to adapt – “curious chameleons”, as one of the fundraising directors we work with put it.


In this group, we see a preference for the practical and low key. Community fundraisers can be outgoing and spontaneous; however, they also have a strong preference for caring, putting others first and being known as reliable deliverers – they can be trusted and they do what they say they will do. They have the ability to empathise with the donor and to meet people as equals. They may struggle to be assertive or single minded when they need to be.


A variety of styles are seen here, although there is a dominant Feeler tendency that is related to building relationships, networking and empathy. There is a generation of ideas in the high yellow energy and a fast thinking style combined with red energy to keep up with a fast moving area. The blue energy enables some evaluation and measurement.

Click on the image below to view project 14 in full - PDF format

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 14 summary: getting the right people as fundraisers

This project will consider the attributes that donors expect to see in the fundraisers they deal with and how recruiting specifically with those attributes in mind will significantly improve the donor experience.

Read more

CDE project 14 section 1: our approach and putting the principles and actions into practice

The following are examples of some of our recommendations and observations in action from the people we met, current contacts and clients, and what we have seen across the sector.

Read more

CDE project 14: appendix 1

Here is the full lists of attributes of a donor-focused fundraiser drawn from the surveys and focus groups we conducted.

Read more

CDE project 14: appendix 2 and 3

Examples of donor-centred behaviour in fundraisers as described to us by those we interviewed.

Read more