The Six Secrets to Becoming an Extraordinary Major Gift Officer, Secret #2—Being Rejected is Required

Being rejected is required?  As my dad would say, “YOU HEARD ME!”

Many people equate “being rejected” with “I’m a loser.”  Perhaps that’s true in the dating world, but in the major gift fundraising world, it’s essential.  And it’s essential because it tells you that you’re out there doing the work.

Richard and I have run into many major gift officers who fear rejection.  MGO’s who fear rejection should really be fearing unemployment.

MGO’s who fear rejection often exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  1. They research a donor to death, sometimes taking over a year to get to setting up a meeting.  Research is paramount to really understanding a donor, but it can also be used as a crutch to not get out there and ask.
  2. They’re “busy” with finding new prospects and attending events.  Have you seen this too?  An MGO has a caseload of qualified donors and, instead of working with his donors, he’s out there looking for new ones.  Then he wonders why half of his caseload didn’t give that year.
  3. They’re hiding under the desk.  Okay, not literally, but MGO’s who fear rejection are the folks who spend MOST of their time in the office writing up strategic plans and goals and then going over them constantly.  Hey, you all know we LOVE plans and goals, but there is a time and place for that.  60-75% of your time should be out there talking to your donors…and asking!
  4. They’re constantly explaining why their meetings got canceled. Boy, Richard and I have sure heard this one quite a bit.  After three or four cancelations you automatically begin to wonder if there ever was a meeting.
  5. They’re consistently in meetings with you having to explain why they didn’t meet their revenue goals that month.  Usually the answer has something to do with the donor canceling their meeting.

Extraordinary MGO’s behave quite differently.  They don’t fear rejection.  It doesn’t mean they like it, but they know it’s part of the territory.  Great MGO’s know that the more they ask, the higher the likelihood that someone will say YES.  That’s how they view their work and their caseload.

In many ways it’s similar to a professional baseball player.  A great baseball hitter fails 7 out of 10 times when he gets up to bat.  In fact, Ted Williams, one the greatest baseball hitters of all time, during his greatest year, failed 6 out of every 10 times he came to bat.  And he was a hero!

Like a great hitter, extraordinary MGO’s know that the more they can get out there and match a donor’s passion with the mission of the organization, the greater the chance of a donor saying, “YES!”  Will there be rejection?  Of course!  But again, like a good hitter, they learn from those rejections, they ask good “why” questions and they get back out there and do it better the next time.

This is not some rah-rah speech I’m giving you here.  This is a mindset-an approach, if you will, that Richard and I have witnessed in extraordinary MGO’s…over and over again. Each donor on their caseload is another chance to help the donor do something the MGO knows they want to do anyway…GIVE!

It’s a wonderful thing to watch.



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!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Non-Profits, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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