MGO Self Assessment – A Six Part Series: #6 – Do You Make Your Donors Feel Special?


That’s the question each of the donors on your caseload is asking?

“Do I really matter?”

And there are a thousand ways to tell them they don’t, not the least of which is not knowing who they are and treating them as members of a group vs. the individuals that they are.

This is why I am ending this series on the MGO Assessment on this point. Because, in the end, if you don’t actually make your donors feel special, then the whole effort is lost – it has degraded down to getting the money and hoping you can continue to get it.

There are so many ways to make your donors feel special. See how you measure up in each of these areas:

  1. You really do know who they are.  When you are with them you remember what they have said about their families, their interests, their passions and their concerns.
  2. You are interested in them.  When you are with them you ask questions, you wonder about how they are doing and you are sincere about learning about them.  You listen more than you talk.  You routinely tell them you like them.
  3. You know about and recognize their special events.  Birthdays, anniversaries, kids’ or grandkids’ birthdays and special events.
  4. You know what motivates their giving.  They are comfortable talking with you about why they give.  It could be they have a very special passion for a certain group of people or a certain place.  Or they just want to be needed. Or it could be they give out of guilt, pride or anger.  It does not matter.  The point is that you know and they are comfortable talking to you about it.
  5. They are comfortable enough with you to tell you what bugs them about their relationship with you.  They are free to share concerns about the organization, its people or YOU.  They know you will not take it personally, but will process their concerns with objectivity and care.  I heard a story from an MGO in which the donor very bluntly told her why she and her husband would no longer be giving as they had in the past.  They did not trust that their money was being used as they intended and they had problems with the leadership of the organization.  The MGO listened carefully and compassionately, promising to deal with her concerns.  Now, several months later, the relationship is even stronger.  The MGO did not focus on the money lost.  Instead, she focused on the possible loss of relationship. Then she took steps to fix it.  And it has made all the difference in this important donor relationship.  How do you do in this area?  Have any of your donors actually told you what they really think?  If so, good.  If not, you still have work to do.
  6. You are actively building mature relationships with the top 25% of your caseload.  These donors love to meet with you.  They are excited to hear from you.  They see you as a person who can help them fulfill their vision and passion for a hurting world, not as a person after their money.

We all want to matter to others.  It is one of the central goals of being human, that we actually matter.  And donors are no different.  If you are helping your donors KNOW that they matter to you and the cause you represent, then you are doing your job as an MGO.  If not, there is work to do. Important work.

I hope, as you’ve journeyed with me in this series of MGO Self-Assessment, you have begun to realize that taking care of yourself and making sure that you are operating correctly is one of the key success factors in your work in major gifts.  There are three main players in the major gift transaction:

  1. The organization and its program.
  2. The donor and her resources (financial, labor and counsel).
  3. And YOU, the Major Gift Officer.

My focus, in this series, has been on you.  How do you measure up?



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 Donor-Centered, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Mission, Non-Profits, Philanthopy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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