In the world of “Doing What’s Expected,” there’s bound to be some element of disappointment, failure, misunderstanding, hiding and frustration. But there is also joy, when it all works right.

If you go home at night with the feeling of having missed the mark in your work, there is probably something wrong, either in how you are viewing your work, how your work has been organized by others, or how you are operating.

We see this all the time in our major donor fundraising work – managers who do not properly define what needs to be done, MGOs who are tasked with way more work than they can possibly do, and, in some cases, good people simply in the wrong jobs, scared to death that they will eventually be found out. It’s not a pretty situation. In fact, it’s tragic and sad. Fundamentally, we all really do want to do the right things. Sometimes we don’t know what to do – we just feel trapped, with no way out.

Your work in major gifts is not just about the donor, the cause or the strategy. It’s also very much about you, whether you are the manager or the major gifts person. It’s so easy to blame our missing the mark on “bad donors” or a “poor economy” or “those program people that won’t give us information” or “that lousy software system.” It’s a lot harder to look in the mirror and deal with our own reality.

But here’s the key. Doing What’s Expected in Major Gifts is first about embracing who you are in this job, and then aligning the beauty of who you are with what needs to be done.

It’s not easy to do what’s expected. There’s a lot of work needed to create understanding, direction and proper measures. If that work is done well, whether you are the manager or the MGO, you will find the joy, peace and fulfillment you have longed for in this wonderful world of major gift fundraising. If, as you’re reading this, you are quietly relating to the problems I am discussing here, I urge you to take the first step of this journey. Embrace the situation you are in, rather than running from it. That’s the first step. Just look at your current situation and say, “It is what it is,” and begin.

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2 Comments

  • Peter Zehren says:

    Some good advice for any position. I often find myself rephrasing the question, “What can I do today?” Small bites seem to make the mountain manageable.

  • Harriet says:

    Okay I’m a fan – you two are amazing and consistently target the issues with such eloquence. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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