Major Gifts: More About Attitude than Aptitude

Attitude versus Aptitude.

Aptitude:
A natural ability to do something.

Attitude:
A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or
something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

Over the years I have been on an interesting personal and professional journey with these two words. On the personal side, I have struggled with having the right attitude – the right way of thinking and feeling – in my personal relationships. This has spilled over into my professional relationships, which were sometimes fogged and blurred by a negative and critical attitude.

I’ve grown up a lot since those days, but I still have to watch myself in this area. If I don’t, my ability to DO things (aptitude) will be limited by my attitude.

I’ve seen so many talented people lose an opportunity to contribute their amazing abilities because those abilities were hidden beneath a lousy attitude.

You’ve seen this as well. You have been around a person like this. And you have likely said: “She has so much potential – she is so talented. If only she could get rid of that chip on her shoulder.”

Several weeks ago I was told about an employee who had been asked to consider taking on more responsibilities. The request was more about commitment to the cause rather than working more. This was a perfect opportunity for the employee to respond with the proper attitude and say: “I would love to help out however I can. Just tell me what you need me to do.” Instead he asked for a salary adjustment, a raise on top of that, back pay for work he had already done in the past and written assurances about what would happen economically if he was let go.

It was an amazing example of attitude – poor attitude. And after I processed my reaction to his response, I realized that it was a gift to the organization he worked for. He had shown his hand – the work he was doing was more about him than anything to do with a commitment to the organization he worked for.

As a MGO, you spend a great deal of time thinking about strategy, messaging and moves in order to properly manage the donors on your caseload. You want to deliver on the promise that you will help these donors fulfill their passions and interests through their giving to your organization.

All of this activity is focused outside of yourself, as it should be.

But have you recently checked yourself in all of this? Have you checked what you are thinking and feeling about any one of your caseload donors, your job, your relationship to your manager and others? You might be delivering good work (aptitude), but is your attitude declining into a dark place?

I remember one situation last month where the MGO was so consumed by one difficult donor that it colored her entire view of her job. Her attitude about this situation was literally robbing her of the ability to contribute her amazing talents. Her attitude of service, over time, swung into an attitude about self.

That is what is so interesting about this attitude thing. It can creep up on you, find its way into your spirit and slowly steal your ability to utilize your talent in the amazing way you know you can.

Now it is true that sometimes you do need to move away from that difficult donor or manager or colleague. It is true sometimes that they, not you, are the problem. But most often, in Jeff’s and my experience, it is us that needs the fixin’, not someone or something outside of us.

The content delivered by many fundraising and major gift consultants is often about strategy or messaging, which is often needed. But in our opinion, that is the lesser part of the agenda with major gift caseload donors. You can apply all the strategy and messaging points you’ve learned from the “experts” and still fail at your job, if your attitude and spirit isn’t right.

This is why Jeff and I spend a great deal of time talking about the spiritual, psychological and emotional side of major gift fundraising – that part that has to do with WHO you are and how your operate. Because if you are “right” on the inside, you will be right with the donor. And that dynamic will unleash that donor’s amazing generosity.

We are so thankful for the amazing person you are. You are wonderfully gifted. And you are doing important work – work that is positively affecting the planet and its people. Be sure you can keep that contribution of your talent going and growing by checking on your attitude. It is good and regular work we all need to do.

Richard

Facebooktwitterlinkedin

4 Comments

  • Alex says:

    Very insightful perspective on attitude here. Maintaining a good attitude is exactly what separates the best from the rest. We have all met those mid level managers who may have all the aptitude in the world but are held back by their attitude.

  • K says:

    Attitude goes both ways. When an organization shifts and piles work onto remaining staff, instead of hiring new employees to distribute the workload, that’s a fundamental disrespect toward the value of team members. It’s also the first step in a slide toward an employee burning out and leaving.

    • Marina says:

      I was coming to say something similar. If an organization does not value an employee’s increased work enough to compensate for it, that’s a sign to the employee that the organization won’t provide strategic support for their work either. Commitment to the work applies to the organization as well as the employee.

  • […] is a deal-killer. I have written about this before, and you can read about this dynamic further in this post. Just be sure that during the interview process you ask enough questions about the person’s […]

Leave a Reply

Passionate Giving Blog™