Seven Ways To Do What’s Expected In Major Gifts–#1 Embrace your Reality

I’ve always hated it when someone gets in my face and says,  “I think you were supposed to do that.”  Once again, I have disappointed my boss, my friend, my wife or my daughter.  I thought I was doing the right things, but something was lost in the translation between me and the other person.  And to be honest, in some cases, some of the things I knew I was supposed to do, I just didn’t feel like doing.

And so it is in the world of “Doing What’s Expected”.

There’s disappointment, failure, misunderstanding, hiding and frustration.  There is also joy, when it all works right.  And that’s what I want to talk about in this 7 part series on Seven Ways To Do What’s Expected In Major Gifts.

If you go home at night with the feeling of having missed the mark in your work, there is probably something wrong, either in how you are viewing your work, how your work has been organized by others or how you are operating.

We see this all the time in our major donor fundraising work.  Managers who do not properly define what needs to be done; MGOs who are tasked with way more work than they can possibly do, and, in some cases, good people simply in the wrong jobs, scared to death that they will eventually be found out.

It’s not a pretty situation.  In fact, it’s tragic and sad.  Because fundamentally, we all really do want to do the right things.  Sometimes we don’t know what to do – we just feel trapped with no way out.

Your work in major gifts is not just about the donor, the cause or the strategy.  It’s also very much about you, whether you are the manager or the major gifts person. It’s so easy to blame our missing the mark on “bad donors” or a “poor economy” or “those program people that won’t give us information” or “that lousy software system”.  It’s a lot harder to look in the mirror and deal with our own reality.  I know.  I’ve had to do it many times.

But here’s the key.  Doing What’s Expected In Major Gifts is, first about embracing who you are in this job and then aligning the beauty of who you are with what needs to be done.   That’s what I am going to talk about in this series.  Here’s where we’re going in the posts ahead.

#2 – Know What You Are Doing addresses the mess many MGOs and their managers find themselves in by either not having a job description or one that has everything in it with very little to do with managing a caseload of donors.

#3 – Know Where You Are Going.  Here I talk about a problem I’ve seen in most every job I’ve witnessed throughout my career – the lack of defining reasonable objectives and goals and how that causes MGOs and Managers endless frustration and failure.

#4 – Get Out of the Office!  This is a big one.  And both sides (management and MGOs) have a point.  But the lack of support is one of the most common reasons MGOs fail at their job. I suggest what to do about it.

#5 – Let Your Boss Know What You’re Doing.  This is about an often heard complaint by major gift managers – one that causes many a relationship between management and MGOs to go astray – and that is the manager not knowing what the MGO is actually doing.

#6 – Plan a Guilt Free Donor Trip. This easy step by step approach to donor trip planning instantly eliminates the contentious arguments between the MGO and his or her manager about those “junkets” the MGO is taking. 

#7 – Settle Into A Good Place.  How adopting our approach to Doing What’s Expected In Major Gifts results in security, good donor treatment, solid performance and a happy MGO and manager.

It’s not easy to Do What’s Expected.  There’s a lot of work needed to create understanding, direction and proper measures.  But if that work is done, whether you are the manager or the MGO, you will again find the joy, peace and fulfillment you once had in this wonderful world of major gift fundraising.

If, as you’re reading this, you are quietly relating to what I am saying here, I urge you to take the first step of this journey.  Embrace the situation you are in vs. run from it.  That’s the first step.  Just look at your current situation and say:  “it is what it is”.  And stay with me through this series to find your way to a better place.

Richard

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About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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One Response to Seven Ways To Do What’s Expected In Major Gifts–#1 Embrace your Reality

  1. Ah Richard, I see you too have heard that it is always the fault of the lousy fundraising software! I hear that so often I decided that fundraising databases are even responsible for shooting JFK: http://thedatamonkey.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/it-was-professor-plum-in-the-library-with-the-database/

    Look forward to reading the other parts in this series.

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