Smiley yellow guy providing service.

Third in a Four-Part Series

For you to be a good major gift officer, expectations are already high. I listed those expectations in my first blog post in this series. Your work is no small task; Richard and I know that you have one of the toughest jobs that the non-profit world offers.
But this series is about going beyond good, to being great. Being a great major gift officer requires that your actions go beyond everyone’s expectations of you.
Providing outrageous service to your donors will do that.
Leaders and managers expect that you will cultivate and steward your donors well. Their expectation is that you will establish relationships with donors, understand their passions and interests, thank them properly, report back the impact their gifts are making, and throughout the year create meaningful connections.
That is a ton of work right there for a full caseload of donors!
But to go BEYOND that and really serve your donors at a level that will delight them beyond belief, here are some ideas for you:

  1. Be a connector — If you have 150 relationships that you’re developing, that means you have the ability to connect the donors in your organization to each other. It’s tremendous when you can help your donor connect with someone that is able to help them. This could come into play to help make a business or personal connection for your donor. I’ve worked with great MGOs who have made these connections, and their donors never forget who “brokered” that relationship. Providing these connections tells a donor you are looking out for her and that you know who she is.
  2. Turn donor information into thoughtful touch points — When donors give you information about what their passions and interests are beyond how it relates to your mission, use it to delight them through touch points that “break through the everyday clutter.” For example, you know that one of your donors is a Civil War buff. You hear there is a Civil War scholar speaking next month in his city. Send him an email with all of the information, saying you thought he might enjoy this. I want you to understand that this is no small thing. Creating a touch point like this gets etched into the donor’s mind. It sets you apart.
  3. Listen intently — Quite honestly, most people feel they are not heard… especially major donors. Feeling heard touches the heart. Listening means you care about someone. Listening intently means you will, at a later time, be able to remind the donor you heard them. This will endear you to the donor because it’s rare that someone does this with them. Most people just want something from them. You are giving them something instead.
  4. Show empathy — As I just stated, most people from non-profits want something from the donor. When you show the donor that you understand their situation and where they are coming from, it allows the donor to let down her guard and trust you. Being able to know a donor’s story and tell it back to her helps the donor understand you “get her.” “You know where she’s coming from.” It’s rare that a donor will experience this. You can be the exception.
  5. Surprise your donor — Remember that donors expect things from major gift officers. Meeting with them doesn’t create a lasting impact by itself. For example, a donor expects that they will be thanked for a gift by both a letter and most likely, if large enough, a phone call or note from the CEO, for example. But they would NOT expect a video from one of the recipients of that donor’s gift to thank them personally. This is the type of “surprise” that the donor will carry with them for a long period of time.
  6. Ask boldly, knowing it will bring the donor joy — Let’s say your donor has already given a gift this year. It was even more than last year. But what if an opportunity came up at your organization, and because you know your donor, you feel that he would absolutely love to fund it? Many MGOs would not bring that opportunity to the donor because they are afraid of upsetting the donor. But you will. It will go something like this: “Hey [donor], I know you just gave a generous gift three months ago, but I have to tell you about a new project I think you’re going to want to support because of what you told me recently.” Now, even if the donor says no, he won’t be offended. Why? Because you just told the donor you know him. Who doesn’t love to be known?

By putting these ideas into practice, you will set yourself apart in your donor’s mind and heart. Again – need I remind you? – donors have many other major gift officers talking to them, clamoring for their attention.
However, you are going to break through all that and go beyond expectations, by providing outrageous service to your donors. (Tweet it!)
Read the whole series on Going Beyond What is Expected of You:

  1. Really Knowing Your Donor
  2. Being Real
  3. Providing Outrageous Service (this post)
  4. Helping Create a Culture of Philanthropy