September 18, 2023 by Nancy Rosenbaum
August 10, 2023 by Christal Cherry
This post is reprinted with permission from Veritus Group Blog.
A master major gifts officer must know when and how often to communicate with a donor, as well as what content to highlight given a donor’s interests and passions. This latter piece is especially important. You must not abuse the donor’s time by blathering on about the “relevant information” if you’re offering complexity and detail she just does not want to consume or care about.
Several weeks ago, we had a report from one donor who contacted a station’s development director to complain that the major gift officer (we’ll call her “Mary”) was spending too much of the donor’s time and getting into too much detail about the programs of the organization.
“It’s not that Mary is a bad person,” the donor said. “It’s just that it’s irritating to have her around because she gets into more detail than I am interested in. If she is doing that with all of her donors, it could be a problem for the organization.”
Mary had done all the right things in this relationship. She had uncovered the interests and passions of the donor and had successfully connected with the donor, building a relationship of trust. She had researched all the programs that this donor would be interested in, so she was ready to help this good donor fulfill her interests by giving to the organization.
But it was right at this point that she stopped listening like she should have, and she moved into presentation mode with the donor. It was almost as if she was excitedly saying: “Guess what, donor, I have everything you need! You are really going to love this stuff! It is SO exciting! I can’t wait to share it with you!” And off she went, ears shut down and mouth fully engaged.
She got with the donor and started excitedly dispensing all the information and the process behind all the information and every detail of the information, suffocating the donor and creating a situation that prompted the donor call to the development director.
Mary is a good, solid professional. She has simply lost her way when communicating with her donor. She has forgotten that the donor needs to control the quality and quantity of the information, not the MGO. That is an easy mistake to make.
Here is how you can avoid this situation:
In other words, dig deeper to secure information about what part of the program is interesting to the donor. If the donor is interested in clean water development in the developing world, her interest may be more about how you find the water source than how you extract the water. Don’t frustrate her by regaling her with details about the part she doesn’t particularly care for.
I know this is pretty basic stuff. But it is here, in the basics, where we see the greatest opportunity for success. This is the reason MGOs most often fail: they just do not do the basics right. So this week, set your mind to keeping all of your communications donor-centered, avoiding your natural tendency to talk about what you (or others in your organization) want to talk about. Keep it short, simple and to the point.
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