I didn’t really mean that. You should thank your donors every day. I did, however, want to get your attention to tell you that you have more people to show gratitude toward than just your donors.
Who are they?
They are all the people who help you do your job well. All of the “back office” folks who create the infrastructure and support to help you serve your donors. They are also the program and finance folks who help you put together solid offers to solicit your donors. They are board members, development committee members, and even your CEO or Executive Director.
As Richard and I have said, you have a difficult job. There are a lot of moving pieces, and the only way you can be successful is to have a team of people around you which works with you, not against.
We have been in too many situations (and perhaps you are in the middle of a few of these yourself) where an MGO cannot do her job properly because someone on the “team” is blocking her for any number of reasons. What we generally find in these situations is that there is a lack of trust and understanding among departments on what major gifts is trying to accomplish. Quite frankly, there is also not much appreciation from major gift officers on how important the “team” is to their success.
So many good MGOs end up not nearly as effective as they could be.
Our overriding philosophy is very simple, yet powerful. “Do unto others…” “Give of yourself in service to others and others will respond to you.” “Show gratitude, and gratitude will come back to you.”
Richard and I really believe that an MGO will only be effective if he shows gratitude not just toward his donors, but also to all who help support that MGO.
There is a practical side to this, just like with your donors. You have to put this down on paper and plan for it. “Wait, doesn’t that take the spontaneity out of it?” Not at all. You’ve already decided you need to show gratitude toward your colleagues. They do so much for you. The best thing you can do is be proactive and intentional about it.
So just like you would with each of your donors, I suggest you do the following:
- Create a Gratitude Impact Chart (GIC) — Yep, just like your Marketing Impact Chart for your donors, create a Gratitude Impact Chart for all of the colleagues who touch your work.
- Thank you plans — In that GIC, write in throughout the course of the year when you are going to reach out and thank certain colleagues. Again, this is going to include board members, back office folks, program people, finance, front desk people and the CEO, among others.
- Impact Notes — Just like donors want to know how their gifts are making an impact, your colleagues want to know how their helping you is making an impact on your work. Tell them specifically what they are doing and how it helps you reach out to donors. Tell them donor stories. Break their hearts.
- Community building — Bring your colleagues together a few times a year to show your appreciation. I know one MGO who gathers his colleagues around once a year at the office, buys them donuts and coffee, and tells them what is happening with his donor portfolio and how they each helped deepen the relationships he has with his donors. I love that. Here you have fellow MGOs, admin folks, program, finance and the CEO all in the same room hearing from one MGO talk about his donors. Amazing.
- Go out of your way — Be willing to help out a fellow colleague when he needs help. Be careful, I’m not talking about taking you away from your job for a long period of time; I’m talking about little things that could make a big impact. Remember, when you give yourself away, people respond to you in kind.
As you know, your job is difficult, yet incredibly rewarding. Without your colleagues you could not be successful. Reach out to them. You need them. They need you. If you can have a group of committed people helping you be successful, YOU will be successful.