There is no doubt that your job as a major gift officer can be difficult. There are a number of threats to your psyche that come from either the organization or the donor:

  • A manager that insists on high performance without giving you the tools to do your job.
  • A program department that does not give good program information.
  • A donor that is difficult to deal with.
  • A steady stream of “no’s” that you face as you try to fulfill your donor’s interests and passions.

And the list goes on.
But there is a group of internal threats – let’s call them hurdles – that you face as well. These are blocks and fears that sit inside your heart and mind. And if you don’t deal with them, they can cripple you and render you ineffective.
Take comfort, though – this is normal. We all have fears. We all second guess ourselves. We all have those doubts and worries that freeze us into inaction. And the best way to deal with them is to throw them out into the light and talk about them.
That is why the process below is brilliant. It was created by our associate, Lisa Van Cleef, and it is a very practical way to look each fear in the face and deal with it.
Here is how it works.
First, acquaint yourself with the six areas on the chart below. They are common fears of MGOs:
fearchart 2015-Nov30
Here is what Lisa does and what we recommend you do:

  1. Make a commitment to talk with your manager or a colleague about this.
  2. Look at each of these areas and place a small mark on where you are on the continuum.
  3. Have a conversation about why this area causes you anxiety.

This also works well in teams. Have all your MGO colleagues work on it together.
Two things happen when you do this with others. First, just verbalizing your fear in each area begins to release the grasp that fear has on you. Secondly, you open yourself up to receiving the wisdom and experience of others. They will share with you how they dealt with their fear of rejection, or how they worry about making mistakes, or how they manage not having all the answers.
Fear and discomfort are common feelings that we all have in many areas of life. Talking openly about them and gathering the wisdom of others is the best way to deal with them. Don’t travel alone in this area. Let others journey with you.