A Four-Part Series on Donor Qualification Stages of Implementation
Stage 3: Avoidance
Avoidance.Well, I wish I had a happy ending to the story I was telling you about in my last post on discouragement.
Bill was discouraged by the donor qualification process. And as hard as I tried to convince him about the facts related to the process – all outlined in my last post – he chose to ignore them.
The next time I checked in, he was woefully behind.
So I said: “What’s going on, Bill? You’re really behind.”
And this is what he said:
“Well, we had a big event that I needed to work on, and it’s taken up a lot of my time. And then there was the staff retreat. I volunteered to lead a session on keeping a focus on our donors. I had a lot of great feedback on that! I’ve also spent a great deal of time researching the donors in my caseload pool. It sure takes a lot of time, as you know, Richard. So I’ve been busy – very busy. And I haven’t had the time to work on qualifying. I know I’m behind, but I’ll get to it.”
When I checked in with Bill’s manager about the event and the retreat, the manager told me that Bill hadn’t been asked to do any of this work. He had volunteered. I could tell Bill’s manager was frustrated, just like I was.
What was going on was classic avoidance. Even with all the facts I had shared with Bill about the dynamics of qualifying, Bill had allowed his discouragement to segue into avoidance. He’d gotten busy with a lot of “other needed and important things” and wasn’t doing the qualifying work he should have been doing.
It’s not unusual for a MGO to move into this stage of the donor qualification process, where the pressure from the manager to “get the money” is increasing and the donor qualification process plods on at its normal pace and with its normal dynamics.
If you find yourself avoiding the donor qualification process, remember these important points:

  1. All the donors in the caseload pool from which you are qualifying, they’re all friends. That’s why they’re giving to your organization.
  2. Not everyone wants to relate personally. This is important to remember. Only one out of every three who meet your major gift criteria will want to connect more personally with you. (It may be higher.) This is a fact. So the “no” you’re getting isn’t personal. It’s simply a statement of communication preference on the part of the donor.
  3. The only objective of qualifying is to find those donors who want to relate more personally.
  4. You’re in the process of creating a caseload of donors who ALL want to relate. Think about how much better that is than sitting with a full caseload of donors, two-thirds of whom don’t want to talk to you. Think about how unproductive and frustrating that would be. Think about how you won’t be successful in your job if you allow that to happen. So you’re preparing a better future place for yourself.
  5. Don’t allow yourself to say: “This is getting to be too much – I’m not sure I can see it through.”
  6. Don’t substitute other “reasonable and needed activities” for qualifying. Hold yourself accountable by calling yourself out on this. Name it for what it is – avoidance. Then stop and get back on track.
  7. Persist. Persevere. Keep moving forward. You can do it! Write down your daily goals for qualifying, then tackle those first in your day. (Tweet it!)

And lastly, remember this: most good things in life come with a bit of work and discipline. That’s true for a good relationship or a good job. There are ups and downs. But if you do the right things that you know are right, you’ll be in a good place. That is true here!
Read the full series:

  1. Donor Qualification Sucks! Excitement and Fear
  2. Donor Qualification Sucks! Discouragement
  3. Donor Qualification Sucks! Avoidance (This post)
  4. Donor Qualification Sucks! Breakthrough and Success