The worst thing you can do as a major gift officer is to get involved in the Giant Hairball. What is the Giant Hairball?
My good friend, Jeff Brooks, writes about it in his Future Fundraising Now Blog, but essentially the Giant Hairball is anything in your organization that distracts you from your real work. Namely, knowing your donors, bringing them funding opportunities and serving them outrageously.
Anything outside of that is getting messed up in the Giant Hairball of your organization. If you’re honest, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
How many times have you been asked to help out with an event or brainstorm a new program that has nothing to do with your donors? How many times do you look up at the clock from your desk and realize you’ve spent half your day doing paperwork and chatting with the planned giving officer down the hall about one of his donors?
How about the time you wanted to help one of your donors fund their passion at your organization and your organization said no, because it fell out of their main priorities. YOU had to go back to your donor and tell them no, because you let the Hairball take over.
It’s hard NOT do get sucked up into the Giant Hairball of your organization. It’s enticing, and for some reason, I see MGO’s get sucked into it very easily.
Then, when I sit down with MGO’s and ask them to tell me about a particular donor they have on their caseload… long pause…a look of worry in their eyes. “Well, I really don’t know them, yet. I’ve only had them on my file for three months.”
“What? Three months and you don’t know this donor?”
Folks, there is no excuse for this. But, when I ask why they don’t know the donor, the answer almost always is about something related to the Giant Hairball that sucks them in.
Or, (and this really bugs me) when an MGO tells me a story of how he has a donor who wants to give, but she wants to be creative about her gift and when he goes to leadership about the idea they put up a roadblock.
And he leaves it at that.
Let me make this clear. Your job as the MGO is to ORBIT the Hairball, NOT get sucked into it. Do not let all the organizational “goings on” pull you in. If you get sucked in, you may never come out.
If you don’t pull yourself out of the Giant Hairball, you won’t know your donors, you won’t be able to come up with creative offers to put in front of them, and you won’t be able to strategize amazing ways to steward them.
And you know…this is what it’s all about.
Your manager can deal with the Giant Hairball. If you run into a barrier that the Giant Hairball has created, run around it and get creative with your manager for ways not to succumb to its gravitational pull.
The Giant Hairball wants you. But I have confidence that you won’t let it get you.
P.S. Great gift idea for all of your colleagues- order the book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon McKenzie. You’ll love it.