smileyfaceoncard 2014-Feb18
Richard and I, along with our team at Veritus, have worked with hundreds of MGOs over the past several years. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to manage, serve and coach these MGOs and help them succeed at what is probably one of the most difficult jobs in the non-profit sector.
Through all that time and with all those major gift officers we have come to understand some key traits, behaviors and skills that all MAGNIFICENT MGOs possess.
I’m going to highlight these traits over the next six posts to help inspire and challenge you as you grow into your own role as a major gift officer or an MGO manager.


Usually MGOs, by their nature, are people who are motivated by working on their own. They love getting results through their own actions. However, we have noticed that magnificent MGOs are people who understand that it takes a team to be successful.
Here are two major teamwork tips we have learned from managing and observing these MGOs over the years:

  1. They recognize that even though they are responsible for the donor goal and strategy, they don’t have to be the only ones who cultivate and steward that donor — Magnificent MGOs are donor-focused. This means they are always looking within their organization to help find ways to relate to donors. Some donors are really into a certain program. A great MGO will understand that, bring the donor together with the program officer responsible for it, and try to establish a relationship. Other MGOs have a problem giving up “control” of a donor relationship. However, this is not giving up control, it’s a letting go of the reins. MGOs are not sole proprietors of relationships with donors. You wouldn’t believe the problems we’ve encountered by possessive MGOs.
  2. Magnificent MGOs understand that developing relationships with all staff is critical to having great relationships with their donors — Sometimes Richard and I see MGOs who are the “lone wolf” types. They might be okay in their work for a short time, but eventually the “lone wolf” is out there alone. Because he hasn’t developed a strong relationship with staff, he has become ineffective with donors. Why? Because he can’t tell good stories and can’t bring in donors to experience the mission… all because he couldn’t reach out to staff. Magnificent MGOs know they need staff to create an experience for donors. That is why they are constantly reaching out to staff with special touches, reporting on gifts that donors give, taking folks out to lunch to get to know them personally, and trying to create a sense of community between development, program and administration. I knew one MGO who always took a couple of the finance people out to lunch every so often so she could get to know them, get mutual understanding about what the other does and gain a new perspective. The MGO also knew that when certain gifts came in from her caseload, the finance people were very careful with allocation and made it easy for her. This happened because finance knew the MGO and wanted to help her. All because the MGO reached out and built that relationship.

Teamwork and building a team is essential if you want to be a magnificent major gift officer. You cannot do this job on your own – NOT if you want to be donor-centered. Remember, everyone in your organization has the potential to help you cultivate and steward your donor portfolio. Your job is to take that potential and turn it into a working reality where everyone wins… especially the donor.
Series details:

Magnificent MGOs quality #1: Teamwork
Quality #2: A True Customer-service Mindset
Quality #3: Persistence and Patience
Quality #4: Planners!
Quality #5: Competitive and Restless
Quality #6: Brokers of Love and Joy