Emotional Intelligence Trumps Strategy In Major Gifts
I’ve seen this happen so many times. Others laud a very competent person as being so smart or capable that nothing slips by them or knowing exactly what to do. But every time that person has to engage relationally with a donor or a co-worker they fall down. They miss the emotional data and lose their way.
This brings to light a very real problem in major gifts — where the major gifts officer (MGO) has all the right knowledge but lacks emotional intelligence. This short blog by Seth Godin precisely describes the situation. In it, he notes:
“It doesn't take a genius to see that competence is no longer about our ability to press certain buttons in a certain sequence. Far more often, competence involves the humanity required to connect with other people, in real time.”
The key phrase in his writing is: “the humanity required to connect with other people, in real time.”
Jeff and I are constantly talking about this fact in major gifts and fundraising in general: It is not about the money.
But we keep hearing story after story where the MGO is pressing certain strategy buttons and not working effectively in the emotional space. And then the donor does not connect.
How can I convince you to stop doing that?
It’s not that I am against strategy or feel it doesn’t work. It’s just that unless you connect with the donor on what they want to do to heal the hurts of the planet or advance the good that can be done you will not succeed in major gifts.
It is about listening and acting with your emotional ears and feet not just executing strategy even if it is a really good strategy.
Think about this. Are your donors thankful for how you have helped them to express their love and care for humanity and the planet? Will they actually have space in their heads, with all the family and noise around, where they recall how you brought them joy because, through their giving, they were able to do exactly what they needed and wanted to do?
It would be awesome if that happened. And if it did, it would be because you focused on the donors’ passions and interests, helped to fulfill them and brought the donors such inexpressible joy and happiness that they could not help but be thankful about it.
This is where you need to be in major gifts. And if you are not there, that’s OK. Just aim to get there with every one of your caseload donors. It’s important. It matters.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.