If you would sit down with extraordinary major gift officers and ask them to tell you a few stories about how they cultivate and nurture their donors, or ask them about a gift they helped secure, you would find out that they don’t think of their jobs as something accomplished between the hours of 9 and 5.
Extraordinary MGO’s: 1) view their jobs as a life passion and, 2) schedule their time around their donors’ lives and not some old paradigm that their non-profit is stuck in.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard ordinary MGO’s talk about how they couldn’t get a hold of their donors either by phone or in person. “I’ve tried 3 or 4 times to get in touch with this donor, but he is never home and never gets back to me.” When I dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions, I come to learn that they are trying to reach out to donors during their own office hours.
Why are donors not at home? Perhaps because, like the MGO, they are working! When I suggest that they need to call in the evenings or plan visits around the donor’s schedule, I get a strange look of horror. You’d think I had asked them to jump off a bridge or something.
If you happen to be the manager of an extraordinary MGO, the absolute worst thing you can do is require that he or she work from the office and “punch a clock.” I’ve seen great MGO’s whose spirit and creativity are crushed because some out of touch manager has a need to see their faces in the office everyday.
Now, I understand the tension for you managers. You may have been burned in the past by other MGO’s who had a lot of freedom, could work from home and “do their thing,” and then took advantage of it and didn’t do their job. Believe me, Richard and I have seen this all too often as well.
But, what Richard and I see across the board with extraordinary MGO’s is that they are constantly restless. They don’t settle for an unanswered phone, but rather, do their best work around their donor’s schedule. And they PRODUCE.
I remember a situation in which an MGO was really unhappy about his manager’s requirement that he work from the main office. Most of his donor visits were either in the evenings, early mornings for breakfast or on the weekends, yet he was still required to be in the office by 8:30 every morning.
He wanted the ability to have more flexible hours. When we sat down with his manager and looked at his goals v. actual revenue…he had more than doubled his goals. And he had repeatedly done so year after year.
Why would you try and “control” someone like that by requiring him to work regular “office hours”?
You wouldn’t. So, if you happen to be doing that…stop it now!
In fact, if I were the manager of an MGO who always came in on time and left at 5pm every day, I would be really concerned.
The extraordinary MGO knows how to work within the donor’s time.
If a donor says, “Hey, I know it’s late, but can you meet me at a diner at 10 pm?”, there is no hesitation from the MGO. “Of course! I’ll see you there!” If the only meeting she can get with her donor is right before a tee time on Saturday morning…she makes that meeting.
Does she sit around and complain about it? No. She gets excited that the donor has carved out time for them to meet.
You see, extraordinary MGO’s know that many of their donors lead busy lives. They know that their donors can’t fit THEIR schedule.
Extraordinary MGO’s don’t concern themselves with a 40-hour work week. They concern themselves with getting to know their donors, deepening their relationships, coming up with creative offers to present for funding and being relentless and RESTLESS about it.