I love analyzing cause and effect. In fact, my wife gets a little irritated by my constant WHY questions.  “I wonder why this happened?”, and “What was the cause of that?”, etc.
It is a basic curiosity that drives me to question the causes for the things that are happening around me.  Now, I may take it to the extreme, because this has become almost a hobby of mine.  But when it comes to understanding your donor’s behavior, it is very critical to ask WHY.
Why did this donor give that amount?
Why did that donor not give?
Why did this donor give a different amount than I expected?
After your 2012 books close, a very important analytical task must be done.  You must go through your entire caseload, donor by donor, and ask the WHY question that is appropriate to each donor.  If you do this you will know what is working and what isn’t.
So right now, set aside at least a half a day – 4+ hours – maybe even a whole day – to do this work.  I know that as you read this you may be saying, “I don’t have the time to do this!”,  OR, “I really don’t have the motivation to do this.  It’s boring and tedious.”
If this is what you are saying, then you have to, as an act of will, make yourself do this work.  If you don’t you will not be successful in the coming months.  And, I believe, wanting to achieve your personal success should be motivating.
Here are several questions to ask yourself as you work through each donor on your caseload:

  1. First of all, ask the WHY question for each donor.  In other words, try to discern what caused the result you received.
  2. Do you know this donor’s interests and passions?  If not, why don’t you?  This is basic stuff.  We have been talking about this over and over again in this blog.  Why is it that getting this very basic, fundamental and critical information is so difficult for you?  You have to ask yourself this question.  For Jeff and me, this is one of the most frustrating topics in our work – that of getting an MGO to take the basic step of securing the passions and interests of each donor on his or her caseload.  You must have this to be successful.
  3. As you look at each donor, ask yourself, “Do I have a plan to move this donor to a greater engagement with me and the organization?” If you do, good for you.  If you don’t, you need to develop one.  Giving the donor a gift or sending a thank you note is nice, but it is not a plan.  Jeff and I find way too many MGOs who think dropping by with a gift is all that needs to happen.  You must have a plan.
  4. Does your plan contain proven strategies that work? This question implies that you know what works in general and you know what works with each donor.  If you don’t, you have not completed step #1 above – asking the WHY question.

While this exercise of asking why and determining what strategies work seems rather basic, believe me, very few MGOs actually do it.  The ones that do are extremely successful professionals. The ones that don’t are usually very frustrated.
As you look forward to this new year, remember that you have in your care some wonderful people who are on your caseload.  They each have hopes and dreams about what their giving will do to better our world.
And they are counting on YOU to help them out.  Be sure you know WHY things are happening between you.
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