How to Put Stupid Into Major Gifts, Part 2
Over the years I have trained myself to focus on the need. Why? Because the right fix on the need drives everything you do in major gifts fundraising. It drives:
1. A clear understanding of what the problem is in human and emotional terms. Don’t forget, the whole point of a nonprofit is to solve problems—all kinds of problems. When you focus on the need you gain a very clear view of what you are trying to do.
2. You to remember what the main point is. It is amazing to me how quickly we forget what the major point is in our work. Here is what I mean. When I ask a major gift officer (MGO), a development director or any fundraiser what their job is, they usually say something like: “My job is to raise money,” or, “my job is to manage the fundraising, communication and marketing agenda of our organization.” I very rarely hear that the person’s main job is to solve a problem or address a need. So, the right fix on the need reminds you what the main point is.
3. A proper balance of head and heart. A fix on the need keeps your heart engaged and that is very important. Too many of us stay solely in our heads, with all the logic, planning, To-Do lists, numbers, etc. And our hearts are cold. I know from experience that a cold heart in fundraising is a major block to success. And the way you keep your heart warm is to be up against the need all the time. It keeps you balanced, focused and properly aligned.
So, having the right fix on the need is very important in the work you do as an MGO. I recommend that every time you think about a specific ask, proposal or case that you first zero in on the need. Take the following steps:
1. Describe the need. Do not get into solutions. Simply write down the answer to the question, “what is the need?” I find that just this exercise alone can be difficult. In fact, every session or training I have done on this subject, it is extremely difficult for the person to describe the need without getting into the solution to the need. Try it. Just describe the need.
2. Make sure you describe it in emotional and human terms. Take a look at what you have written in your description of the need. Did you use a lot of head language like “this situation is part of a social trend in this area…”—language that really does not connect to the need? This is head language. It is needed, but not in the quantity you will tend use. What does it feel like, as a human being, to be in this situation? What are you experiencing because you are in this situation. This is what you should see in your description. Make the need human.
Describing the need, as you should, is a very difficult thing to do. More difficult than you think. And the reason is because it is so painful and disturbing—as it should be. Let yourself go into the need, the pain the hurt or the absence of joy and wonderment that many in the arts world provide us. It will be good for you personally and professionally. And it will assure that you do not lose your way as our Canadian tax friends have.
Click here to read part 1 of Richard blog.
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.