Richard and I have written quite a bit about the need for MGOs to have solid management to succeed.  But recently, I was reminded again why it’s so important in creating a healthy major gifts team.
A few months ago I spent time with someone I would describe as one of the best MGOs I’ve ever worked with.  She has all the skills, tools and the ability.  If I was a non-profit manager, and she was out looking, I would hire her in a second.  During our weekly meetings she is always prepared, on the ball and totally on top of things.
I began to wonder whether I really needed to meet with her that often.  She doesn’t seem to need management.  She’s so good.
Through a series of circumstances, with travel and vacation, it had been over a month since I last met with her.  When we finally did meet, she was concerned about how she was handling a few of her donors.  She didn’t know if what she was doing was right and seemed to be kind of down.  I said, “Hey what’s going on?  You know this stuff.”  She replied, “I know, but I’ve just felt so isolated.  I needed validation that I was doing the right thing.”
Then it hit me.  Even the some of the best MGOs need consistent input in order to succeed.  While MGOs don’t need to be hovered over, there is huge value in providing them with accountability, focus, strategy and, in many cases, a listening ear to help validate their instincts.
Every MGO is different.  And just because an MGO might always be hitting her revenue targets or seem to be on the ball doesn’t mean she doesn’t need consistent management and input  just like other MGOs who may be struggling.
Let’s break this down a bit.  Here are a few reasons why we believe MGOs will soar if  managed properly:

  1. They WILL make their goals—With solid strategic input and management, MGOs will make their revenue, touchpoint and personal goals.  Good managers (and this is the key) will keep MGOs focused,  accountable and encouraged.
  2. MGOs won’t forget about their caseloads—Richard and I see this all the time when we come into a new client situation.  Someone gets hired as an MGO and, before you know it, they are running the annual gala, off on a bunch of project trips and chasing “millionaires and billionaires” who have no interest in the mission of the organization.  They have essentially lost their way as major gift officers.  Good management keeps the MGO on the right path and focused on their caseload.
  3. MGOs will feel someone has their back—Many times MGOs are working from home.  They don’t get a lot of feedback.  Yet, even in shops with multiple MGOs, major gift officers often don’t seek counsel and advice from colleagues.  It’s a strange thing.  I’m not sure if it’s about competition or feeling like they need to do it on their own, but I find this often.  Good, consistent management solves this problem by allowing the MGO to talk through the strategy and moves of their caseload and lets them know they have someone looking out for them.
  4. It gives MGOs validation—Just like the story I mentioned previously, consistent, ongoing management of MGOs allows them to feel secure in that what they are doing is the right thing.  I find some of the best MGOs are actually the most insecure people and need to be reassured that what they are doing is right.  A good manager will understand this and help the MGO feel secure and safe in his or her own strategy and position.

Okay, so now you know why MGOs need good solid management. But what does good management look like on a consistent basis?  Here it is.

  1. Set up consistent meetings—Really?  Yes!  I’ve learned this over and over.  Giving constant feedback to MGOs is extremely important.  And, you need to provide that focus and accountability.  For some MGOs that means weekly meetings – for others, bi-weekly or even monthly.  It really depends on the MGO.  Good managers will figure this out and tailor their management to what the MGO is in need of.
  2. Make sure your MGO has that Marketing Impact Chart we keep talking about—and you have a goal for every donor.  This allows the managers to manage, and gives you something tangible to manage against.
  3. At each meeting, discuss the following:  Moves you made the previous week, moves you are making this week, problem donors, strategy for top tier donors, the plan for donors the MGO does not know, where you are to date with revenue compared to last year and compared to goals.
  4. Discuss personal growth—How is the MGO doing professionally?  Talk to him or her about it.  How are they doing personally?  Are they in a good place emotionally?  This is so important.  MGOs who are emotionally challenged don’t do well.  It’s your job to recognize this and help them get to a good place.

If you can do this consistently, you will be managing correctly.  It may not mean the MGO will succeed, as not all MGOs make it, but it will ensure that you have done everything possible for them TO succeed.  That is huge.
With this type of management, I will guarantee success.  Everyone wants that.