I have nothing to offer.

Second in the series Six Reasons Your MGO Will Leave Your Organization

Imagine hiring a salesperson and then having no product for him to sell. You wouldn’t do it. But it is done all the time in major gifts. It is one of the most common complaints we hear from MGOs, and it is summed up in the phrase “I really don’t have anything specific to present to my donors.”
Some managers, when they hear this statement, respond defensively. Here’s what it sounds like: “What do you mean you don’t have anything to present? You know what we do. Just get out there and tell them.”
As if it were that easy.
One of the major reasons a donor will not meet with a MGO is that the MGO does not have anything of value to present to the donor. And if there is nothing of value, why would a donor want to give the MGO any time? They wouldn’t. And they don’t.
This is where there is a disconnect on the part of management. They think that if the MGO has a basic understanding of what the organization does, that is enough to guarantee the MGO’s success with the donor. Not true.
You can lay out that “this is the mission of the organization” and “here are the four key objectives to fulfill that mission” and “here are the eight strategies we are using to achieve those objectives” – you can do all of that and the MGO still does not have very much substance to present to the donor. That’s why the donor will not give the MGO the time to meet with her – there is nothing of real value to share.
I know this is frustrating. I have sat with many CEOs, Presidents and Executive Directors of non-profits, large and small, who just can’t understand “why those MGOs are not out there doing their jobs?!” Well, believe me, they do not have enough to present to donors. And if you continue to maintain a culture where the MGO cannot be successful, then expect the MGO to leave.
Here’s what you can do about this:

  1. Understand and accept that this is a real problem. I really can’t add anything to this statement. This IS a problem. A real problem.
  2. Get finance and program to work with the MGO to produce effective donor offers. Finance has the numbers. Program has the detailed program information. They should sit together with the MGO – with all the fundraising staff for that matter – and construct a set of donor offers for every passion and interest a donor is known to have (relating to the mission and work of the organization), and for different price points. Look at this as a “buffet of offers,” where a donor can find something that matches what he is interested in. I have written extensively about this in a series on this topic, and we have a white paper as well. Take a look at this material to get the help you need.
  3. Get program to produce proof of performance. In addition to effective donor offers, a MGO needs stories and data on how each program the donor funded previously is actually working – proof of performance. This is critical for donors as they seek to know that their giving is making a difference. This part is closing the loop on the donor offer. If the MGO, with your help, can do the donor offer right, he or she will get meetings with donors and show them how what you are doing matches their passions and interests; then this match causes a gift to be given. But that is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. Now the MGO must come back, at some future time, and show the donor that the gift was actually worth it – that it actually produced the result the donor intended. This is so important to donor satisfaction and retention.

Take steps right now to provide donor offers for your MGO to use with her donors. It will pay off in donor satisfaction, donor giving and MGO retention
Coming up – the next reason your MGO will leave your organization: unrealistic goals.
Read the whole series, Six Reasons Your MGO Will Leave Your Organization:

  1. MGOs Will Leave a Culture that Focuses on Money vs The Cause
  2. MGOs Leave If They Have Nothing to Offer Donors
  3. MGOs Will Leave If You Give Them Unrealistic Goals
  4. MGOs Will Leave with Too Many Changing Expectations
  5. MGOs Will Leave Incompetent Managers
  6. MGOs Leave When the Job Doesn’t Fit