Why Major Gift Officers Fail
- You are lazy. If it’s hard to get motivated to do your work, explore why that is. This is a thing of the mind, in my opinion. I feel lazy at times. And it forces me to examine my attitude and thoughts about the work that I am lazy about. Then I am faced with a decision. Am I going to stay in this mode right now or am I going to flick the switch and get moving? I’ve discovered that I do have the power to change how I think and feel about things.
- You don’t like people. You seriously don’t like people? Or is it you don’t like being around certain kinds of people? Think about this: You are an MGO, and your job is to be with donors. For the most part these are all good people. Yes, they have their personalities that sometimes are difficult to be around, but, truthfully, you and I, at times, are probably difficult to be around as well. When I have these thoughts, I need to flick the switch, and value and respect others, plus seek to fulfill their interests through my work. I have learned that if I stay in my silo mode with others, I will suffer. Whereas if I flick the switch and allow myself to enjoy the beauty in everyone around me, I actually flourish.
- You fear failure. This is a big one. Fear is such a big part of my life. I am now able to not let it control me. My wife and Jeff help me with this one a lot, as do other friends. Fear can capture me and keep me a prisoner if I let it. I have to, as an act of my will, flick the switch and make myself see that what I fear is actually not there—it is ghost I have conjured up to protect myself. Examine your fears. Fear of being rejected by that donor. Fear of not reaching goals. Fear of performing less than your colleague. You need to flick the switch on all of these fears and reframe them. You can do it.
- You are afraid to ask. Well, this one is like No. 6. It is about rejection. I can relate. Rejection used to get to me in a big way until I realized that a “no” was a doorway or passage to a “yes.” I have written about this in earlier blogs. You know as well as I do that you can’t know where a donor stands unless you ask. So a critical part of knowing is asking. And a real part of asking is getting a “no.” And once you have that “no,” you now have a clearer idea of what to do next. Flick the switch and learn to embrace “no” versus fear it. The “no” is wisdom and light coming your way, not the negative thing you think it is.
- You aren't following up. There is a reason you have not followed up with your good donor. It might be a belief that our work is done (i.e. you got the money and now you can relax.) Or, it could be that other things have grabbed your attention. But you do know that the fastest way to lose a good donor is not to tell him or her that the gift made a difference. You know that. Plus, you know that it is respectful to communicate with a donor frequently and tell the donor what is going on. You know that. And you value it. I know you do. So, flick a switch, and go to the other side of this one and make yourself value and respect your donor by following up. You can do it.
Thomas Edison said: “I failed my way to success.” I love this statement and the thought behind it. It tells us an essential truth. Failure is the path toward success. Embrace this reality, and look carefully at the attitudes you have that are governing your behavior and causing failure in your job. Identify each one, then flick the switch and go another direction.
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.