There’s something wrong in the major gifts field – something that causes MGOs to leave their jobs at an alarming rate. And Jeff and I know what it is. We can sum it up in two points:
1. Most managers and leaders in non-profits don’t understand how major gifts works.
They don’t understand the need for a healthy donor pipeline to “feed” the major gift program – so MGOs are left to scratch for donors who aren’t that connected to the organization. They don’t understand that major gifts take time – so they demand immediate returns and high performance.
They don’t understand that MGOs need specific information on programs and projects for donors to support – so they demand that MGOs get those donors to give because “they love and trust us.” And they don’t understand that donors need to know that their giving is making a difference – so they don’t resource the major gift backend properly with feedback and information for donors.
Now to be fair, there are a lot of good managers out there. And we’ve met them. But they’re in the minority, which is why MGOs cycle in and out of jobs every two years (plus or minus some months). It’s not good.
2. Many managers don’t understand the difference between recognition and appreciation of their MGOs.
Theresa Tapocsi, a Client Experience Leader here at Veritus, passed on to us this tip from the Harvard Business Review, which was adapted from Why Employees Need Both Recognition and Appreciation, by Mike Robbins. Here it is (edited for clarity as an excerpt):
“We often use these words [recognition and appreciation] interchangeably… but there’s a big difference between them…
“The former is about giving positive feedback based on results or performance.… The latter is about acknowledging a person’s inherent value.
“If you focus solely on recognition, or praising positive outcomes, you miss out on opportunities to connect with and support your team members…
“Here are a few simple ways to show appreciation for those around you. First, listen. One of the best things you can do for the people you work with… is to put down your phone, turn away from your computer, and genuinely listen to them.
“Also, tell people what you value about them. Doing this proactively – not because someone did something great or because you want something from them – is an incredibly powerful gift. It can positively affect how your colleagues feel about themselves, your relationship with them, and the culture of the team. Lastly, check in with people. Show them that you care by asking how they’re doing (and meaning it)…”
So if you’re a leader or manager reading this, please take steps to fully understand how major gifts works – so you can fully support your MGO. And then be sure to recognize their achievements and show appreciation for who they are. (Tweet it!)
If you do these two things, Jeff and I believe you will keep your MGOs longer. Try it.