In this series on the 4 characteristics of top performing MGOs, we are looking at research from the Education Advisory Board that uncovered the one natural prototype that would encompass the best MGO performers. The EAB has called that profile the Curious Chameleons.
In my last two posts we looked at the first two characteristics: intellectual and social curiosity and behavioral and linguistic flexibility.
The third characteristic of a top performing MGO is being an information distiller. The research defines this trait as the ability to recognize, curate and communicate relevant information. The word “curate” is interesting in this definition. It’s a verb and it means to pull together, sift through and select for presentation. The MGO who is an information distiller is always preparing for a presentation or meeting with a donor. She is gathering information from various places to reach a communication objective.
This ability to distill information has several important aspects. I have added my comments and application to each:
- Possesses fluency with data and analytics to enhance donor prioritization. The facts are friendly, Jeff and I always say. We love facts and numbers because they tell a story, and they give us a path. Facts about the donor, data about giving and capacity, etc. Fluency with data simply means that the MGO is always looking for external facts about the donor and the category of non-profit work the donor is interested in. He is also looking at the internal facts about giving patterns, donor designations, donor responses to offers, etc. All of this information is then distilled to create a practical and strategic approach to the donor. If this is done correctly, what the MGO shares with the donor is content that the donor is comfortable with and interested in.
- Quickly zeros in on relevant details related to donor motivations and interests. This goes right back to donor interests and passion. Jeff and I feel very strongly that a MGO should know the interests and passions of every donor on their caseload. Then the details of those interests must be secured next. If the donor is interested in shelters for the homeless, then the MGO learns everything she can about homelessness and shelter issues. This knowledge makes for a content-rich discussion with the donor.
- Explains complicated issues in a comprehensible fashion. Using the example of the homeless shelters, the MGO would seek to understand why the homeless are homeless, and then be able to explain the causes of homelessness and what his organization is doing about it. This does require a little study. So if the organization you work with has eight categories of emphasis, it would be good for you to “school up” on all eight so you know what you are talking about. Then you can be conversant, in a comprehensible fashion, on each of them.
Being an Information Distiller boils down to this: the successful MGO knows what she is talking about. Have you ever been around someone who is blathering on about something and you know they don’t know what they are talking about? You do not want to be that person with your donor. So we suggest you become a good student on the content and programs of your organization.
Facts are friendly. It’s never too late to go get them and be able to share them with your donor. You will find that, because you are doing this, your donor is more engaged with you than ever before.