There’s a question we ask everyone we hire. It’s worth asking yourself as well:

“Do you prefer to get results through others, or would you rather get results through your own efforts?”

Many people think it’s a trick question. Like we are trying to figure out who is self-centered and who isn’t. But that’s not what we’re getting at.

The goal of this question is to understand if the person we’re talking to is more oriented toward management work (getting results through others) or technical work (getting results through their own efforts).

This is an important distinction as everyone in the workplace (in any kind of work) has a bias one way or the other.

The problem is that the workplace tends to value management work (results through others) more than they do the technical work (results through oneself) which is reflected in higher pay, more authority, etc.

That’s why ill-informed managers promote their best major gift officers into management positions, thinking that it’s a reward for high performance. It’s not. In fact, it’s setting up the high-performing MGO for failure.

So, the point here is that not everyone is wired to get results through others – not everyone is wired to be a manager.

Which is why you cannot have a non-manager type managing your frontline fundraisers – especially another frontline fundraiser. This is why we created a co-management solution for non-profits around the world. Veritus Group pioneered the concept of co-management in 2005 when we saw that frontline fundraisers (mid-level, major and planned gift officers) needed direct and frequent management to assure that focus, discipline, and strategy fit in their management of caseload donors.

While many managers inside the non-profit space recognized this need, they couldn’t persuade their managers and leaders to fund the staff needed to do it. Instead, they often took their best frontline fundraiser and “put them in charge.”

This was a disaster. It also meant that the frontline fundraisers were managed up to the point of meeting HR requirements (Are you doing your job? Are you reaching goals?) but were not assisted at a level of detail on the valued added function of caseload and donor management.

The result was high donor and value attrition (the giving from the same donors going down) and lower caseload and donor performance.

When a major gift officer is co-managed by Veritus, the value attrition of the managed donors moves from 40-60% loss each year to between 7-12%. That is a substantial savings to the non-profit often in the millions of dollars for multiple major gift officers.

You’ve noticed that I am using the word co-management to describe what we do when we’re working with a VP for Advancement or Director of Development to help manage their frontline fundraisers in mid, major, and planned gift programs.

Here’s why I’m using this term – because we genuinely are co-managing the frontline fundraiser. The manager provides the organization and HR inputs to the life and practice of the frontline fundraiser, while Veritus provides the technical inputs: strategy, moves management, goal setting, plan creation, and the weekly accountability to execute each donor’s personalized plans.

So, when you think about the management of your frontline fundraisers, you have two options.

First, you can hire a real manager who enjoys getting results through others, who knows frontline fundraising, and who has proven experience in this area.

Or, you can hire Veritus to co-manage your frontline fundraisers.

If you want to take this option, you will likely get pushback from traditional authority figures who believe that this function should be the work of insiders, not outsiders.

Our response to this objection is as follows. For years, non-profits have been using outside consultants and vendors to get their work done. These involvements range from direct marketing programs (appeals, newsletters, etc) to annual reports, events, grants, radio, TV and online ads, public relations, computer services, fulfillment, and receipting – it’s a long, long list.

Why do non-profits use outside contractors or consultants to do this work? The answer is quite simple and very practical. They know three things:

  1. These technically proficient outsiders bring experience and best practice input that adds real and sometimes difficult to find value to the non-profit’s current staff. One part of that best practice is that you get the benefit of other successful strategies from the consultants’ other clients. This is incredibly valuable. In other words, you’re not just working within your own organization’s bubble.
  2. They often provide the service at a lower cost than what it would be inside the organization.
  3. It’s a far easier and more flexible labor solution. It’s easier to change out a vendor and find a new one than it is to replace a current employee.

Whatever you decide to do, do not put a person with a technical bias (frontline fundraiser) in that leadership role.

Make sure you have a true manager, whether that means hiring one or outsourcing via a co-management solution like we offer at Veritus.

And if you’re not sure what route to take, know that co-management works. It shows up in the numbers.