With all the economic uncertainty swirling around and non-profit leaders and managers wringing their hands in worry about revenue, I want to assure you that there is one thing you need to be focusing on right now…


If you think about it, the only thing you can control is working the strategic plan you have for each of your donors.

That’s it! Everything outside of that is out of your control. The economy goes bad… you can’t control that. Someone loses their business… you can’t control that. A donor dies… nope, can’t control that either.

Of course you have compassionate concern for your donors when these things occur, but not because you’re worried about how it will impact your job performance. These things are unrelated.

Richard and I have worked with so many fundraisers and leaders who have undue stress and anxiety over things they cannot control.

The key, of course, is that along with a revenue goal for every major donor, you have a plan for how to get there. Most major gift officers don’t have a plan. And those MGOs who don’t have a plan are running around with a ton of stress and anxiety because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing every day, and they’re subject to the whims of either leaders and managers or their donors.

Not having a plan creates chaos in the fundraiser’s mind. And it’s worse when the outside forces that they cannot control rear their ugly heads because if you don’t have plan, those outside, uncontrollable forces cannot be the reason your revenue is down. It must be something you did wrong, right?

Not if you have a strategic plan for every donor and you work that plan faithfully throughout the year.

I want to stress this again. You cannot control anything outside of working your plan. You don’t need to worry about the economy, a donor’s death, or the financial situations of your donors in order to make your revenue. All you need to be concerned about is making sure you execute the plan you created for those donors. If you do that… you’ve done all you can.

What we have found over all the years of working with thousands of major gift officers is that IF the MGO has worked their plan, about 90% of the time they either make or exceed their revenue goal. And, for the 10% that didn’t make their goal, it was from something they could NOT control.

Should the MGO be rewarded the same, even though they didn’t make that revenue goal? Absolutely!

Why? Because they worked their plan.

So, fundraisers: don’t worry about the economy, or that your leadership or manager is anxious about revenue. This should not cause you stress if you 1) have a revenue goal and a plan for every donor in your portfolio, and 2) you execute that plan.

Execution of your plan is what you CAN control.

The problem happens when leaders and managers take you away from working your plan. And this is what I’ll address in my next post.