Every once in a while it’s good to stop and look at yourself carefully to evaluate how you are doing in your major gift job.
Jeff and I find that there are many MGO’s in very good organizations who just do not fit and are not happy in their jobs.  Yet they continue to stay, and suffer, in a job for which they are not well suited.  That is why, over the next six posts, I plan to give you some self-evaluation points in 13 critical areas of your major gift work.
While some of them are not deal breakers, i.e., you should quit your job today, a negative answer on any one of them should cause you to reflect on what action you could take to correct it.  Here is the list:

  1. Do you actually fit the job?
  2. How do you manage your time?
  3. How do you schedule calls?
  4. How do you prioritize tasks and donor contact?
  5. Do you know your product?
  6. Are you able to shake off negativism?
  7. How well do you track donors?
  8. Do you have a system for calls to new donors?
  9. How do you pinpoint donor interests?
  10. How do you manage gatekeepers?
  11. How well do you do in making the donor feel special?
  12. Do you know what motivates the donor to give?
  13. What steps do you take to develop a mature relationship with your donors?

One of the most basic things to ask yourself is, do you actually fit the job?  It’s funny, when Jeff and I ask an MGO this question, often the answer is an incredulous, “Of course I do. Why do you think I took it?”
Hmmm….could  it be you needed a job?
Here are some very basic and fundamental questions to ask yourself about job fit.  Sit down in a quiet place and go through them one by one.  Try to be honest.  Remember, no one is listening to your answers, so there is no risk of getting in trouble.  But you really need to stop for a moment and ask yourself these seven questions:

  1. Are you a people person?  Do you like doing things alone or with others around you?  This is one of the most basic questions you just have to answer positively.  Let’s face it, not all of us love to be with people and that’s OK.  But if you are in a major gift position where you need to be with and relate to donors, you must love people.  If you look inside yourself and answer “no” to this question, it is time to dust off that resume. You should not stay in this job.
  2. Are you comfortable being one-on-one with someone you don’t know?  This is sort of like #1 above, but it has more to do with feeling comfortable around strangers.  I can engage most anyone in a conversation – I do it without effort, almost without thinking.  However, I know a lot of folks who just cannot.  They are afraid, uncomfortable and often paralyzed right at this point.  How do you feel about it?
  3. Are you good at engaging other people in conversation and making them feel comfortable with you?  While question #2 deals with being comfortable around someone you do not know, this question is about being GOOD at engaging other people in conversation. If Jeff or I were to watch you at a party or in a group of strangers, would we see you engaging and holding the attention of the person(s) you are talking with?  If not, dust off the resume.
  4. Is it easy for you to ask for a gift?  You would think most MGO’s would answer this question with a resounding “yes”.  But many don’t.  Jeff and I have run into many MGO’s who literally cannot ask for a gift.  How did they get the job?  Believe me, I have no idea.  We had one situation in which the hiring manager himself had suggested that the MGO’s in his care should not ask for gifts but simply “relate to the donors”!  Amazing, isn’t it? And the numbers proved just how wrong this approach was.  When you find it hard to ask for money it means you really do not understand how fundraising works – that it is actually about helping donors do what they want to do with their resources.  It is not about the money.
  5. Does this job fundamentally bring you joy?  OK, every job has its downside.  You’re not bursting with joy and contentment every second of the day.  There are troubles and dark sides, of course. But, do you fundamentally love your job?  Do you get up in the morning, most of the time, looking forward to getting to work?  Or is it just work?  Think about it. If it’s just work, except for needing the money, why are you doing it?
  6. Do you believe in what you are presenting to donors?  Do you really believe in the program you are asking donors to support? Jeff and I have encountered many MGO’s who really do not believe in or support the solution their organization is presenting to donors.  Goodness!  How do they keep going in this situation?  I’d be looking for another job right now!
  7. Do you feel comfortable with the organization you are working for? There are some organizations that are just plain toxic, with people sneaking around snooping on employees, reporting on each other and constantly fighting amongst themselves.  There are places where the top leader is so filled with fear that she controls everything from top to bottom and causes all her employees to fear her.  Why would you work in such a place?  I wouldn’t.  Even if it took me 2 years to find a way out, I would be out.  Are you comfortable with your organization and its work environment?

It’s important to BE in the right place, or, as they say, on the right “bus”.  It’s also important to be in the right seat on the bus, i.e., in the right job.  Look carefully at both of these things and determine if the job and the place fit who you are.  If not, get moving out.