The Foolishness of Looking for New Ways to Reach Donors
Why is it we keep looking for some new way to do something when we know the exact steps it takes to get it done?
Jeff and I experience this dynamic on a daily basis.
- We tell major gifts officers (MGOs) and development directors to build relationships with current donors – instead they chase high-capacity non-donors. One development director sent his new MGO off to connect with a non-donor so that “they could secure a million-dollar gift.” Good luck on that.
- We tell MGOs that not all donors who give the organization a lot of money want to relate, but the MGO loads up the caseload with non-qualified donors and proceeds to waste more than half of her time with non-responsive donors. No wonder this MGO is so frustrated with the lack of progress.
- We tell MGOs that they must know the donor’s passions and interests to serve them well – but the MGO ignores that advice and goes directly to asking the donor for a gift that does not match their passions and interests. Be ready for a “no” on this one.
- We tell development directors and major gift managers that meaningful connections and value retention from the same donors are important metrics to measure MGO performance. But they ignore that and choose to focus on the number of face-to-face contacts and then wonder at the lack of progress of their MGO.
- A manager wants something new and different to train MGOs and brings in a motivational speaker to rally the MGOs and inspire them to new thinking. We don’t have any trouble with motivation and inspiration, but when the basic major gift things are not being done in the organization, we look at these new things as distractions. And we are proven correct in our conclusion when we see the MGOs performance numbers decline.
Why is it we have this drive to move away from what we know works to the new and shiny things?
Because the new, inspirational and creative thing feels so much better. And it looks so good and is easier. You just have to listen to it all, feel good and apply what you can. And, certainly, since it feels so good, it must work.
The alternative — qualifying donors, identifying their passions and interests, creating personalized goals and plans for each donor — all of this work is rather boring, basic and routine.
There must be a better way. Or so we think. And so we get drawn in by the new thing and enthralled by its foolish promises. We all have fallen prey to the enticements of the new and different — so we know what this is all about.
Make a commitment today to get the basics done with your major gift donors. And avoid the new and shiny things that will reach out and grab you. You will be way more productive and happier.
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.