First of Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life
As we begin 2020, I thought now would be a good time to suggest some New Year’s resolutions that can take you from being a good major gift officer and development professional to being a GREAT one.
These six resolutions aren’t going to be like the ones you always break – like exercising more, eating less, being a nicer person (just kidding, I’m sure you’re nice already). These are six you’re going to keep!
I promise that if you make these resolutions, stick to them and see them through, 2020 will be an incredible year for you, your donors and your organization.
So let’s get into them.
#1 — Serve your donor, don’t sell them.
This weekend, Richard and I want you to find an Apple Store, and walk in and observe what goes on. Sure, if you want to buy yourself a gift, or that new iPad, go ahead… but I want you to look around and observe how their customer service representatives interact with customers.
Recently I had a software problem with my MacBook Pro laptop. I took my computer over to the Genius Bar to get some help. As I approached the desk, a young man with an iPad came over to me and asked if I had a reservation. “No, I don’t… can I still get in?” I asked. “No problem. I’ll make an appointment for you. We can see you in 15 minutes. Why don’t you look around and I’ll text you when you’re up.”
Nice! So I looked around and started playing with the iPads. Soon, a salesperson came over, but instead of hitting me over the head with his sales pitch, he immediately asked me what I do, what I’m interested in, why I might be interested in the iPad, etc. I asked about all the features, the differences in iPads and why this might be a better machine than a laptop or a Kindle.
The salesperson answered all my questions, asked more questions about my computing habits and told me the positive and negative attributes of a Kindle. Yes, he told me the good things about the Kindle!
Then I asked him point blank, “Why are you not trying to sell this thing to me?” He said he was there to make my experience the best it could be, show me the product and let the product sell itself. “We don’t get a commission on sales,” he said. “It’s all about serving the needs of the customer.”
I didn’t buy the iPad that night, nor were they able to fix my software problem (it was a Microsoft product), but I left feeling so good about my experience that I can’t think about NOT buying an Apple product in the future. The folks there were attentive, helpful and passionate about the products they had available.
This is YOUR #1 resolution for 2020.
Everything you do this coming year has to be about serving your donor. If you can get that right, good things will happen.
Now, this is EASY to say, but in practice very HARD to do. It takes planning, discipline and constant vigilance to SERVE your donor.
During the coming weeks (which turn into months) you can get caught up in chasing goals, new prospects and that giant hairball I’ve talked about. You forget about how to serve the donor.
Here is what you can do. Take a piece of paper and a Sharpie pen, and in bold letters write, “Serve the Donor” and put it up above your computer screen. Every morning, that will be your reminder to consider your first priority.
Another thing you’ll find helpful is to ensure that your boss or colleague knows that this is something you’re working on. I always find it helpful to have someone hold me accountable… right, Richard?
I’m telling you that if you find you have to “sell” your programs, organization or project to donors, you’ve already lost. (Tweet it!) However, if you’re truly “serving” your donors, you’ll understand what brings them passion, and you’ll present projects and programs they’ll find joy in.
Yes! Serve the Donor. What a great way to start the New Year!
Read the whole series, Six New Year’s Resolutions that will Change Your Life:

New Year’s Resolution #1: Resolve to Serve Your Donor, Don’t Sell Them (This post)
New Year’s Resolution #2: Resolve to Love Your Work!
New Year’s Resolution #3: Resolve to Set Goals!
New Year’s Resolution #4: Resolve to Make Mistakes
New Year’s Resolution #5: Resolve to be More Curious – Ask More Questions
New Year’s Resolution #6: Resolve to Seek Joy!

This post was originally published as we began 2012.