You’ve spent a great deal of time and money creating the ideal job description and the profile of an ideal employee, and now you’re spending more time and money searching for the right person to fill the MGO position.
Jeff and I have been involved in hundreds of these searches. They are most always filled with optimism and positivity as all the insiders look forward to “just the right person” coming in to fill that MGO job.
And then, many times, things start to go downhill as the new MGO is thrown into the fray without direction and support. Here are the seven most common situations we hear from new MGOs:
- There is no major gift program and the MGO is charged with starting one without any direction, even though he/she doesn’t know how to start a major gift program. The MGO founders for some months trying to figure out what to do; then she is fired because, as the DOD explains: “well, she obviously didn’t know what to do.” No, DOD, it was YOU that didn’t know what to do! Don’t blame the MGO.
- The MGO is hired and is told to pursue people who have never given or have only given small contributions. They are not allowed to cultivate current donors. Really? You want to start a successful major gift program, but the MGO can’t talk to current donors who have capacity and inclination? It would be easier to turn dirt into gold than to do that.
- The DOD hires a power-hungry, self-expressive manager to direct the MGOs, and all that person does is change and question things to display power and maintain a platform for self-expression. We see this too frequently, and it is very sad. Very solid, competent MGOs are strung along by this egomaniac disguised as a servant. And the program goes down in flames.
- The MGO is hired but tasked with one or more non-caseload activities, like helping with an event, going to a social club meeting and doing any number of administrative tasks that have nothing to do with caseload donors.
- The MGO is not supported with adequate program and financial information in order to create compelling and believable donor offers. We see this all the time. “So, MGO, get out there and raise a ton of money. Sorry I can’t provide you any help on what to raise it for.”
- The MGO is asked to attend regular finance meetings where they are bullied and abused by well-meaning folks who need to see money coming in to pay bills. I say “well-meaning” because most often they are. These finance people have a tough job to do. It is not easy to juggle cash flow and get those bills paid. And often the leaders and managers above them are not helpful in creating realistic budgets. Still, the MGO is often the person who feels the heat for all that is not done right outside of them.
- Other MGOs or planned giving officers hoard donors that the new MGO could put in their caseload pool to qualify for their caseload. They do this not because they are bad people; they do this because the non-profit’s policies for getting credit for donations are either not established or outdated. So the old employees are protecting “their revenue” from the new MGO. This is not good. A manager needs to step in.
Now, to be clear, we see hundreds of good situations where managers and leaders are proactively helping their new employees be successful through outrageous service. But the reason I am publishing this negative list is so you can do a check up on your MGO situation. Are you:
- Helping and fully supporting the MGO as he or she starts your program?
- Giving your MGO the very best current high-capacity and high-inclination donors you can?
- Making sure there is a helpful and supportive manager who is working with your MGOs?
- Making sure your MGO has nothing else do to but manage a caseload of qualified donors?
- Giving your MGO the financial and program information he/she needs to create effective donor offers?
- Protecting your MGO from people outside the department/division who tend to be demanding and abusive as they pursue their agenda in the organization?
- Working with other MGOs and PGOs to sort out who gets the donor?
A fully supported MGO is a happy and effective MGO. Everyone benefits from this situation – the organization, the manager and the donor.