Recently, I was in a meeting with one of my clients. In this meeting I sat down with each MGO for a two hour period and went over their caseloads, discussed recent moves, and figured out future strategy for each of their donors.
All of the MGOs with this client are top notch. It’s actually quite extraordinary, but there is one in particular who is perhaps one of the best I’ve ever seen. So, as I was sitting there in the meeting listening to this MGO, I grew so inspired I wanted to let you in on what I saw. My hope is that you, too, will understand what a great MGO looks like and become inspired.
Here’s what I came away with:
- An understanding who her donors are—every time we go through her portfolio of donors I’m blown away by how much she knows about each of them. She knows what their passions are, where they are on their pledge amount, what was the last contact they had and the details of that conversation, (and she is not looking at notes) and what her next move should be. She can point out some of the most minute facts and figures about their last visit. Richard and I have probably talked about “knowing your donors” more than anything else in our blog. But, this MGO takes it to a level I’ve never seen, yet should be emulated everywhere.
- Professionalism—This MGO takes her position very seriously, but in a way that brings her joy and fulfillment. She is very respectful of all of her donors, even those that seem to be “going south” on her for some reason. She doesn’t bad-mouth any of her donors, but seeks to understand where they are and why they may not be responding to her. Additionally, she is always in a state of mature cultivation with her donors; even those that just gave a five-year pledge. She thinks about her donors needs in the short-term, yet thinks long term about where she wants to take them.
- Collaboration—I sat in awe, listening to her discuss how she worked with folks in program about a recent gift she worked on, not just within her own organization, but with a partnering organization that her donor also supports. She helped bring together three major players to create a special gift where all three felt wonderful about it. No infighting, no competitiveness, just keeping her eye on what the donor wanted and working with everyone to make it happen. It was amazing.
- Taking Counsel—You might think that someone who is this put together may think she has all the answers. Not her. She regularly seeks out help, both from her direct manager, her colleagues and myself. She understands that she needs help and doesn’t let her ego get in the way of seeking the best ideas and strategy for her donors. She’ll call me out of the blue, and say, “Jeff, I’ve got this donor and I’m just not sure what to do…what do you think?” All I have to do is ask a couple of questions and SHE comes up with the answer. But the point is , she reached out.
- Appreciating Management—While she seeks out counsel from others, she also recognizes the importance of having a structure. She understands her limitations. She knows she is not a detail person and proactively asks her manager and others to keep her accountable. We joke about it in our meetings a lot, but she has been able to work within her strengths while allowing others to help her manage her weaknesses.
- Restlessness—While she has been incredibly successful with her portfolio, obtaining multiple six and seven figure gifts per year, she is never satisfied. It’s been fun to watch. She’s really goal oriented and loves to set aggressive goals, because she’s actually obtained them. If there is a lull in her work for a week, she is trying to figure out who she can go out to see or how she can learn more about a program in order to find a donor who might be willing to fund it.
- Preparation for Meetings—Finally, I want to say a word about our meetings in general. She always comes prepared for our meetings. Every week when we talk on the phone and every time we meet face-to-face she has an agenda that she sends in advance. She knows exactly what we need to get through each time. It’s extraordinary. You might think she is too serious, but she is not. She is full of joy. Why? Because she loves what she does. Our two-hour meeting feels like it took only 30 minutes. I love meetings like that.
I’m not telling her story to make you feel bad or guilty. I’m telling her story because she inspires me and I know she will inspire you in your work. We all learn from one another. I know that you want to be an extraordinary MGO. Why wouldn’t you? If you practice these seven qualities that make her great, you too can be great.