Major Gift Officers, Do You Still Have the Joy?
Just about every day I’m either in the presence of or talking to a major gift officer. Because of that, I get a pulse of what is going on with you most of the time.
Right now I think you are probably pretty stressed. Like everyone in fundraising, a large percentage of your overall revenue comes in between now and the end of the year.
There are a number of things going on:
- You’re concerned about donors who are “behind” in their giving, and you’re wondering if they are going to meet the goals you have for them.
- There are a number of donors in your caseload who you are expecting to give between now and the end of the year, and you’re worried about that.
- Your boss also is worried. When your boss gets stressed out, he or she passes on that stress in sometimes very unhealthy ways, and you have to deal with that.
- You have a lot of meetings with donors, events to attend, thank-you notes to write, etc. In short, the level of activity from work is tremendous, coupled with your own personal life and what the holidays usually entail.
All of this is a lot to carry.
So, my question to you is this: During times of high-level stress, do you still feel a sense of joy in what you are doing?
Your answer is critical.
Right now, I’m hearing answers from two different camps. Some MGOs, while stressed out and concerned, tell me “yes,” even though it’s difficult right now, they are able to pause, reflect and sense the joy this profession brings them every day. Other MGOs I’ve been talking to are stressed and questioning whether or not they can keep going.
I want to tell you that both are valid responses. There is no wrong answer. However, it’s the awareness of the presence of joy or not that is critical.
If you want to be an MGO for many years, you have to experience joy in what you do no matter how tough your job gets. Now, I would say that about most professions, but especially as an MGO. If you don’t have that joy in what you are doing every day, you will not be effective with donors and you will personally whither on the vine.
You can’t be dried up if you’re going to be a great MGO. You have to be juicy—even in times of great stress.
Now, if you don’t feel the joy, it’s OK. In fact, that is your indicator that either you are in the wrong place as an MGO or being an MGO is not for you. The question is: Do you have the ability to see it and to take action on it, or will fear grab hold of you and cause you to stay in a position that is literally sucking the life out of you?
Choose joy. You will feel better—happier and more fulfilled—if you choose that path.
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.