Put it together.First in a five-part series: It’s NOT Rocket Science

In launching this series in my last post, I urged you to embrace the fact that as a major gift fundraiser, YOU are a leader. This is extremely important as I highlight each area of the five that Tom Peters says are the basics of good leadership, yet ones you may struggle with.
The first one is execution. Tom Peters says this:

“Poor cross-functional coordination and communication is the principal element in the delay of everything. Internal barriers, not the competitors, are the big impediment to effective execution. Getting functions to stop feuding isn’t enough; they need to actively work together in a spirited, coordinated way.”

Seeing yourself as a leader changes your mindset about who is responsible for the outcome of your work. You are. I’ve worked with many average major gift officers who are really good at talking about vision, planning, creating offers, meeting with donors… yet they never seem to get going and execute. They’re waiting.
There always seems to be some kind of excuse that is related to waiting on someone or some department to do something for them before they can actually do the work or execute.
Richard, our team and I see this all the time. There will always be internal barriers that you will come across that threaten your ability to execute, to actually deliver inspiring offers to donors.
How you navigate and overcome those barriers is directly related to viewing yourself as a leader who takes responsibility for knocking those barriers down.
Those barriers can be in your head (“I must have a nice brochure before I can meet with a donor,” or “I can’t talk to a donor until I have all my plans completed”), or as Peters suggests, they can be departments or people within the organization that don’t communicate nor work well together.
So, as a major gift fundraising leader, what will you do to overcome those barriers?
I can hear Richard in my head saying something like, “Don’t be waitin’ around for someone else to do it. It’s your job.”
And this is what will separate your great work from that of an average major gift fundraiser. You take responsibility to get it done… even when it’s not technically your responsibility.
Let’s say you have a donor that has funded a specific program in your organization. You need an impact report to give to the donor, so you can show them how they made a difference. Yet your program people aren’t interested in getting it done for you. They don’t see the value, or they’re too busy, etc. Now, technically, it’s not YOUR job to create this impact report. It really is Program’s responsibility.
But they’re not doing it. As a leader, what do you do?
You figure out how to help program create this report for you. You might take the head of program out for lunch and start talking to him about the value of showing impact. Or, you might take one of the program people out on a donor visit to show her first-hand why donors want to fund the program and why donors want to know about impact.
You could meet with finance and leadership to make sure they are aware that your donors have to know about impact or they will not give again. You get all these folks and departments around a table and discuss how there has to be a process to get impact reports completed.
YOU take charge. Not your manager, not another major gift officer… YOU! This is how you get to execution of your work. And that’s what will make you successful at it.
Please understand that as a leader it’s up to you to knock down any barrier that impedes your ability to give your donors an incredible, joyful experience as they invest in all the ways your organization is changing the world. (Tweet it!)
It’s up to you – no one else but you.
Read all the posts in this series: