There are some crazy things happening out there. Authority figures asking Major Gift Officers to do wrong things, like…

  1. Why would you pay a MGO to prospect among wealthy donors who may have given just a small gift ten years ago? This is the classic “they have money so they definitely will want to give to us.” Huh? Think of that logic. That’s like a real estate agent, who has just observed a couple driving by in a Bentley, thinking “they have money so they will definitely want to buy the house I have for sale.” It’s crazy. There’s no logic to it. In this case, the donor gave a small gift ten years ago. TEN years ago? Goodness. But what has caught the authority figure’s attention is their capacity. The Bentley just drove by and “certainly, since they gave $100 ten years ago, they most certainly will want to give again.” Force your MGO to do this work and it will destroy them.
  2. Or, pay a MGO to find new donors who have never given before to the organization. Jeff and I have never understood this one. The organization has a boat load of current donors in the file, people who have voted with their money, people who have said: “I love what you do; I’m on board!” But the MGO is asked to turn their backs on those donors and go out and cold call. This is not an activity that a MGO should ever be engaged in. It is a total waste of time and money – a very poor use of the organization’s resources. If I were the CEO of an organization where the manager was instructing their MGO to use their time this way, I would fire that manager. (Actually, I would have a firm chat first to correct the situation). It’s just not right. And if you’re doing this, you’ll destroy your MGO.
  3. Or, load up the MGO with 300, 500 and even 700 donors who have not been qualified, then expect them to succeed? This happens all the time. We’re currently working some analysis where all the MGOs have fattened caseloads of unqualified donors. Two problems: fat (more than 150) and unqualified. This is going to be a disaster. And your MGO won’t last very long.

When you see any of these decisions in play, you hear the MGO saying things like: “not getting any engagement,” “haven’t had many replies,” and “don’t know why people won’t respond to me.”
Well, there you go. Of course, these folks aren’t engaging. You aren’t talking to the right people. Talk, instead, to the current donors in your database. Two operational words here: current and donor. Those are the people who really care about and value what you do.
You know what to do. Leave it like it is and destroy your MGO – in other words, force them to fail, get discouraged and leave the organization. Or, do the right thing and have the MGO talk to donors who want to engage and support your worthy cause. It’s just about that simple.