Fundraising efforts help build soft skills – Part 2: Social, adaptability and friendly personality

Soft skills like social skills, adaptability and a friendly personality are important to being successful in the workforce. A 4-H fundraiser exemplifies how 4-H gives youth the opportunity to practice these skills.

This is the second of two articles linking research, participation in 4-H activities and soft skills development.

As previously stated in “Fundraising efforts help build soft skills – Part 1: Communication, organization and teamwork,” research dating back to 1918 conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center has concluded 85 percent of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15 percent of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).

Continuing my observations at the Delta County 4-H Exploration Days car wash fundraiser, I saw how their participation in this activity was building even more of the soft skills mentioned in the LinkedIn year-long study regarding the most sought after soft skills by employers. Part 1 of this article covered communication, organization and teamwork skills. We will now explore social skills, adaptability and a friendly personality.

Social skills

Social skills are directly related to customer service. Making the customer feel welcome, showing appreciation and effectively communicating by listening to the customer and responding to their comments and needs in a positive way. One customer was a former 4-H member and wanted to hear about what youth were doing in their project areas and clubs. Another customer was very specific about how he wanted his car washed. Another couple wanted to share how they had been travelling across country. Members listened intently, responded eloquently to questions and tried their best to meet the needs of the customer.


The ability to adjust to changing business surroundings is critically important. As the day progressed and our car wash became busier, I watched as these youth developed new strategies to more efficiently get cars through by breaking into two separate groups to better handle the volume. In addition, one of the youth began directing cars to available slots to ensure they were washed in the order they arrived.

A friendly personality

Working beside people who are easygoing, optimistic and even fun to be around regardless of situation creates a much happier work environment. Even when the rigors of our fundraising event started to overwhelm them as the cars began to line up, this intrepid group continued to maintain a good attitude both with each other and their customers. Maybe it was the happiness that they were earning a large portion for the cost of their Exploration Days trip, but it was evident 4-H is a place where soft skills grow!

For more information on soft skills and career preparation, visit the following Michigan State University Extension articles:

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2016 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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