The Little Person in Each MGO
We were sitting in the main conference room high above the city doing some major gift training with a fantastic group of major gift officers. The training was about asking for the gift—a session we regularly conduct with our clients.
The MGOs sitting around the table were a mixture of seasoned professionals and employees newer to major gifts. Part of our session had been the day before, where we were dealing with the reasons MGOs do not ask donors for what they could give. We had explored what causes fear and how to overcome it. Now we were starting a new day with the final part of the training.
We all sat down, and I was just getting ready to start when Robert spoke up and said, “If you don’t mind, Richard, I have something I would like to share with the group that I have been thinking about overnight.”
I told him to go ahead. He paused for a bit, then said, “I have to confess that when we were talking yesterday about being bold and courageous in asking—I have to confess that I have been afraid to do that. Even when I know the person loves what we do and I know they have the capacity to give a lot, I find myself afraid to face the possibility that they will say 'no' and that I will experience rejection. And that fear grips me. So I stay safe and I don’t do what I know I should.”
He paused again and then, with some emotion, said, “And I think I have let the organization down and let each of you down.”
It was quite a moment.
I let the last sentence sink in and then I said, “Robert, first of all, thank you for having the courage to say that. I know it helps you. But it also helps the rest of us, because at some level we are all afraid. We all have a little person inside that doesn’t want to hurt or fail or experience rejection. And the fact that you have come out and just said it really helps!”
There are so many areas in life, both personal and professional, where fear grips and keeps us stalled, frozen and ineffective. I am keenly aware of what those are in my life and I am constantly dealing with it.
What was so helpful about Robert’s confession of his fear is that he brought to light a subject that is rarely talked about in major gifts—that subject of inner voices that direct us at a deeper level. Often they direct us towards light and good. Other times they take us to dark places.
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.