The Way of Wisdom: Why It Pays to Seek Major-Gifts Counsel
He was driving around for almost half an hour. He was lost. He had no idea where he was. Even his GPS was no help. There was no way he was going to get to his destination. There was no source of information he could tap into.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Have you ever been with someone who was lost who keeps driving around saying things like, “Seriously, I think it’s right up this street,” or, “We’re pretty close,” but he or she will not stop and ask someone for directions?
The popular theory is that most men, when they are lost, will not ask for help. In fact, one study states that men, on average, drive 276 miles lost every year! That’s right—276 miles lost. Unbelievable, isn’t it? One man stated there weren’t just two categories of lost versus not lost—that the gray area in between was actually part of discovering your way to your ultimate destination—so you really weren’t “lost.”
I find all of this so interesting. You can go with the stereotype that men have a harder time asking for directions than women do or you can just say, like I do, that it’s a certain kind of person that finds it more difficult. In fact, it is more difficult for this kind of person to get help of any kind, no matter the situation.
What prompted me to write about this subject was an experience Jeff and I had recently where we were sitting with a major gifts officer (MGO) who is part of a very large national organization that is organized into chapters. The MGO was asking for help with a specific situation. We gave her some answers we had from our experiences, but then I said: “Ann (not her real name), I know the chapter right here in your state has been very successful dealing with that situation. In fact, the MGO here is currently dealing with it in a pretty creative way.”
“Do you know that MGO?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“How come?" I asked. “Your colleague is just a phone call away. In fact, you could get in your car and be with him in a little under one hour. Have you ever thought about doing that?"
“No,” she replied.
I was shocked. And then, as Jeff and I compared notes, we realized that very few people actually ask for help on most subjects. Why is that? Is it arrogance? Will it make the person look weak, stupid or incompetent? Who knows?
I always have been one to ask all kinds of questions in all kinds of situations. That’s how I learn. And it’s how you can learn as well.
Think about it for a second. The only way to wisdom and knowledge is by sitting at the feet of others who have that wisdom and knowledge and receiving it from them. That is the only way. You can’t get it any other way.
We do this in our lifetimes in various ways:
- 1. We go to school and receive knowledge from teachers and the other students interacting with those teachers.
- 2. We read books.
- 3. We go online.
- 4. We go to seminars or take special classes.
- 5. We watch TV or go to movies.
- 6. We sit and talk to experts.
The common theme is that we are acquiring knowledge and wisdom from others through various channels—electronic, print, personal interface, etc.
That’s why the phrase “there is wisdom in counsel” is true. When we take counsel, we secure wisdom. We find a way. We become enlightened. We know what to do.
It always has amazed me that some people have trouble with the concept of going to counseling for any kind of problem or situation. They think that going to another person to secure knowledge and insight is a sign of weakness. What? This is crazy! Counseling is simply a path toward wisdom. It is a way to unravel the mystery in your head—to find your way.
OK, so here’s the point. Right around you—either in your organization or outside of it right in your city or state—there is a host of major-gift counselors ready to share their experiences and knowledge if you just ask them. Take steps today to tap into this very rich source of information and experience.
It will change your life and make you successful. Why? Because taking counsel is the way of wisdom in major gifts.
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.