I will never forget the meeting I had with an MGO one day last year in late January. I had asked him to come to our meeting prepared to review how each of his donors had performed in the year that just ended.
Our meeting was a disaster.
To begin with, he waited until the last minute to have the year-end report printed for the meeting, which told me he was lazy and not really interested in understanding his donor’s behavior.
Secondly, he had not reviewed the list to examine what each donor had done in December, nor drawn any conclusions about what the donor’s total year giving meant as relates his or her relationship with the organization.  That was not only lazy and unprofessional, but it also told me that he really wasn’t into the job.
Finally, when we were meeting together, it seemed as though reviewing each donor’s performance was a nuisance to him.  What a bother to spend time looking at each donor and trying to understand the nature of his or her journey with the organization!  What a waste of time! There were so many other important things to do.
I was very frustrated.
So I asked him, “Paul (not his real name) – tell me something.  Do you really care about these donors and their relationship to you and the organization? Just tell me the truth.  I really want to know.”
“Well”, he said, “here’s how it is, Richard.  It doesn’t really make any difference whether I know what each of them did in December or even for the whole year!  It just doesn’t matter. They are going to do what they are going to do and there is nothing I can do about it.  I just have to keep working with them and do the best I can.”
Goodness.  I almost blew a gasket.
We had spent a considerable amount of time with this man going through all the principles of major gift fundraising and making sure he understood that his most important objective with each donor was to match his or her passions and interests to the needs of the organization.
He had said he understood.  He understood all right.  Yep.  But now I knew he didn’t believe it.  And we had a serious problem.  Long story short – we let him go.
Now, here’s the take away point to this story for you in this new year.
This is a good time to come to grips with YOUR beliefs about the job you are in.  What do you believe about this major gift work you have committed yourself to?  Do you really believe:

  1. That donors really do want to give?  Jeff and I know from years of experience, and from the writings and experiences of others, that donors do indeed have a need to give.  We know for a fact that the act of giving brings them joy.  Do you really believe and know this?
  2. That it is possible to uncover a donor’s interest and passion?  Every single donor on your caseload has a specific interest and passion for our hurting world. Every single one.  I am constantly amazed at how many MGOs just do not believe this.  They seem to believe that just because they can’t uncover what it is (that’s a failure on their part) that it proves it doesn’t exist.  This is simply not true.  Every donor – every single one – has a specific interest and passion.  Do you really believe and know this?
  3. That you can help a donor in a significant way by helping him fulfill his interest and passion?  Do you believe that you can bring each donor on your caseload great joy and fulfillment through his giving?  Do you really grasp that you are doing him a favor by asking him to give?  Are you really comfortable with this reality and do you fully understand it?  This is important stuff.  If you can answer yes, then things are fine.  If it’s no, then it’s time to study and reflect on this important fact.
  4. That you have the ability to significantly influence your donor and her giving?  Jeff and I find so many MGOs who do not believe they can have a significant influence on their donor’s giving.  Think about this for a minute.  If an MGO does not she they can really affect her donor’s giving, then why even do the job?  The fact is that every enlightened MGO can, through her words and actions, positively influence her donor to increase his or her involvement with the organization.  Do you believe this?  I hope so.

Now, if you really believe these things, then it logically follows that you will be intensely interested in what each of the donors on your caseload did in 2012.  If you are NOT intensely interested in their performance, then I have to question what you believe.
So, stop and ask yourself, at this important time of year, who you are in relation to these donors and the organization you are both serving.  It might be time to renew your commitment and zeal for the cause and the donors.  OR, it might be time to scoot out the door.
Either way, you will be happier and, truthfully, so will the donors.  Do not stay in the middle.  Remember, measuring the performance of a donor is really not about the money.  It is about how well the relationship is going.
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