The Agony of Recording Your Moves
If there is one thing that major-gifts officers (MGO) and development professionals can almost all agree on, it's how they hate going into their databases to record the "moves" they have made with their donors.
Unfortunately, many deal with this aversion by not recording their moves. Instead, they keep a file of calls, visits, notes and information in their heads.
This is a problem.
I'm not writing about this subject to shame you. You know this is extremely important … right?
I know when I sit across the table with an MGO and I tell him, "Look, I know this is difficult, but it's absolutely key that you get this information in the database," he nods, head down, saying, "I know, I know … it's just that …"
Then come the excuses. Richard and I have heard them all. Perhaps you recognize them:
- "I have so many donor visits, I can't do all this paperwork."
- "I don't have time for this stuff; there is too much pressure on me to bring in the money."
- "I'm not good at details; can't someone else do it?"
- "This takes way too much of my time. How am I supposed to do my job if I have to always deal with entering things into the database?"
Yep, I'm sure you are familiar with these. But, here's the deal: It has to be done. However painful it is for you, it's essential and critical that all your moves get recorded in your donor database. Here's why:
- It allows you to know what you've done with a donor and where you want to take her. You will not remember everything you've done with a donor. Recording your moves allows you to quickly figure out where you are in cultivating your relationship.
- Your manager will be able to manage you by reviewing the work you have done each week. This is important. You need to be managed, and this is one way for your manager to check in on what you've been doing.
- You have a trail of work that proves you are working your caseload. What if your revenue goals for a certain month are not met? One way to show leadership you are not going to the afternoon matinee is a trail of all the work you have done. Remember, revenue goals are set to help you set a strategic direction. Sometimes you don't meet goals. But, if you've done all the work, that's all you can do. This proves that.
- It allows those who come after you to know how donors have been cultivated and who donors really are. This is probably the most important reason for recording your moves. It's sometimes easy to forget that the donors are not yours! They belong to the organization. Anytime you don't record a move, you are being selfish and self-centered. Imagine yourself in a new MGO job where you have to start working a caseload of donors, and you look in the database and there is hardly any information recorded. So, you start setting up meetings with donors, and it's clear to them you have no idea how important they are to the organization or what they are really interested in. How does that feel to the donor? And, how unfair is that to you as the new MGO?
Believe me, I know how hard it is to do this part of the work. I personally don't like details. Richard can tell you all kinds of stories about that. But, I've learned some tricks from him that I want to pass on to you that will help you.
- As an act of your will, either force yourself to record a move immediately after you have done it or take 30 minutes every day to complete this. Put it on your calendar, and stick to it. After a certain amount of time it becomes second nature.
- Find someone to keep you accountable. Ask your manager to check in with you every week to make sure the records are up-to-date. Ask a colleague to remind you. Someone in your life needs to help you do it.
- Ask your manager for admin help. Richard and I firmly believe that nonprofits shortchange the effectiveness of the MGO by not supplying him or her with good administrative help. It allows you more time as an MGO to do what you do best. If recording moves is what you do best, then you're probably not an effective MGO.
There you go. If you can keep up-to-date and make sure your records are clean and have good information, it will help you and your organization cultivate, steward and solicit your donors in the proper way.
None of this storing information in your head is going to cut it. Do yourself, your organization and the MGO who comes after you a favor and record your moves!
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.