Over the years Richard and I have been fairly critical (justifiably so) of nonprofit management, especially managers of major gift officers. It’s a tough job, and there are many MGOs out there who really desire to have a good manager that encourages them, lifts them up and holds them accountable.
But today, I’d like to speak to the MGO and focus on how you can truly delight your boss or manager. Because we work with so many MGOs and their managers on a daily basis, we feel we have your pulse. Many times we’ll have MGOs come up to us and ask, “What do I really need to do to be successful?”
Well, I’m going to outline it all out for you. Follow these five bits of advice for how to delight your boss. Not only will you impress your boss, but your donors will be taken care of as well, and you will feel accomplished.
Here’s how to delight your boss:
- Work your plan. This is the first thing I tell MGOs when they ask me “how to get a promotion” or “how do I prove to my boss that I’m good.” Notice that I didn’t start off by saying, “meet your revenue goal.” Richard and I would rather have you work your strategic plan for every donor, because we know that if you do, 95% of the time you’ll make your goal. And if you worked your plan and didn’t make your goal, and we know exactly why… then you’ve done your job. If there were only one thing you could do to delight your boss, this would be it. You can do all the other things I’m going to suggest and if you don’t do this, you’ve failed your boss, yourself… and your donors.
- Be proactive. Nothing is worse for a manager than having an MGO who has to be told or reminded what they should be focusing on every day. Being passive and “not on it” can drive a manager nuts. If you’ve developed your plan, there is no reason for you to be wandering around wondering what to do next. Now if it’s about asking advice on the next step for a donor, THAT’s what a manager wants to help you with – but not having to worry if you’re out visiting your donors.
- Communicate. Next to being proactive, if you want to delight your boss, making sure you’re communicating key information about your donors is critical. I’ve known MGOs who “hide” things from their bosses because they fear something bad will happen to them. Note: Anytime you hide anything, it’s going to come back to bite you. Also Note: Bosses, if your MGO is afraid that something bad will happen, perhaps you need to check your management style. If you can proactively communicate with your boss about your caseload, you will create trust with your boss. Your boss will know that you didn’t make your revenue goal for the month because your donor is planning on giving their gift next month. Or she will know that you have to lower a goal for one of your donors because he lost his job. You would not believe how many MGOs get into trouble because they don’t communicate with their managers. We always promote “getting it out into the light.” This is always the best approach.
- Get out — of the office, that is. Delighting your boss means not having them see you in the office much. Your boss would be very happy barely seeing you walk the halls of your organization. This would mean that you are out in front of your donors establishing relationships with them. Seriously, Richard and I have had managers talk about how they are worried whether one of their MGOs is “going to make it” because he is always at his desk.
- Document everything. Every day, managers are tearing their hair out because they constantly have to bug their MGOs to enter conversations and donor information into the database. If you could be known as the MGO that not only is loved by her donors, but also is up to date with all her information in the database… you will be apple of your manager’s eye. And here is a little insight, MGOs: your manager actually expects that she will have to bug you about this, so if you can do this without her having to get all over you about it, you’ll be talked of highly in every management meeting.
I guarantee that if you do these five things, you will be considered a “rock star” MGO. But more than anything, it will be your donors and your organization who will benefit. Yes, you’ll get rewarded, but your donors will be rewarded as well. That is ultimately what it’s all about.