Introduction to a five-part series: It’s Not Rocket Science

You are a leader. You may or may not currently be in a leadership position in your organization, but in the work you do, you are indeed a leader. At least that’s the way you need to see yourself if you’re going to be successful as a major gift fundraiser.
This is the inspiring bit of wisdom I got over the last couple of weeks. You see, recently I attended a business entrepreneurs conference, and just the other day I read a great article by Theodore Kinni called “A Blinding Flash of the Obvious,” about Tom Peters (a business leader guru) in the Stanford Business Journal.
Besides the “We are all leaders” awakening, the other big “aha!” I got was this:
None of the work we do in major gifts is overly complex. As leaders, once we have the basic strategic framework for how to do major gifts, we know what we should be doing. But we need constant reminding and focus to actually make it all work.
This immediately brings to mind a story Richard tells, when he was sitting around a big conference table with a prospective client. After Richard completed his presentation the CEO said, “Hey, this all sounds great, but you didn’t tell me anything I don’t know already… this is all pretty basic. Why should I hire you?” Richard very calmly looked at him and said, “Because you don’t have the discipline and focus to do it yourself.” To which the CEO knowingly nodded in agreement.
In the article I read, Tom Peters says there are five key areas where we keep failing down as leaders. While Tom wrote about these for business leaders, they are just as applicable in your work in major gifts. These five key areas are not difficult to understand. But they are critical – and if executed properly, they will help you become a better major gift fundraiser.
Here are these five key areas that leaders (you and I) struggle with. If they’re managed correctly with the right focus and attention, they will help you be successful in your work. Here they are, using some creative license:

  1. Execution
  2. Excellence
  3. Influencing Culture
  4. Colleagues
  5. Listening

Over the next five blog posts, I’m going to cover each of these and how it relates to major gift work. It will serve as a constant reminder for you.
I urge you to embrace one big thing: own that you are indeed a leader in major gift fundraising. Because whether you see yourself as a leader or not, you ARE! And as a leader, you have to act. There is no waiting for someone else to take the lead. (Tweet it!) You are responsible for taking these five key areas and using them in your position to positively influence your major gift program.
Read all the posts in this series: