Major Gifts Fundraising: You Need a Friend
"I've been doing this on my own for so long, and I think I'm failing. I'm so glad you can help." This is what we often hear from MGOs who are out there on their own without any support.
I promise you this: You cannot be a successful major gifts officer if you don't have help. I don't care how good you think you are, you will fail without others to help you. Here is some of the help you need:
- Mentor — You need someone in your life who has more experience in your field and can speak truth to you without you getting defensive. This is an absolute must. You have to seek this out. Don't expect it will come to you.
- Colleagues — Even if you are a one-person shop, you have to seek out colleagues who are doing what you are doing and with whom you can seek advice, talk about frustrations, share joy and learn from. Too many times I see good MGOs who fail to reach out to colleagues because they think they are in competition with them. All the great MGOs I know have great relationships with their colleagues. They have great friends at work.
- Support staff — Richard has talked a lot about this in previous blog posts. But, since you are expected to travel and be in front of your donors, you need administrative support. Otherwise a bunch of your time will be spent on other things besides your donors.
- Managers — You need a strong manager to support you. You need someone to keep you accountable, keep you focused and not allow you to veer off somewhere that has nothing to do with your caseload. You might think, "Gosh, life would be so much easier if I didn't have someone holding me accountable for everything." That kind of thought never comes from a great MGO. A great MGO realizes he or she needs structure and someone to help him or her stay on the road.
Being a major gifts fundraising professional is hard work. You have a lot of responsibility and pressure on you at all times. You cannot do this alone. Leave your ego at the door. You have to lose yourself in order to gain so much more.
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.