Thursday, 9 August 2012

Major Gifts is a Team Sport

Health warning:  this is not a blog post about the Olympics.

I know it's good to be topical and all, but damn I've seen a lot of blog posts about the Olympics this week.  So this isn't one.  Still, always nice to have a picture:

Not a blog post about the Olympics.  But a picture just the same.

So if this isn't a blog post with a slightly tenuous Olympics analogy what is it?  It's a Defence of Major Gifts Fundraisers.  And here's why...

This week I heard a nice lady talking about Major Gifts fundraisers.  They were, she said, the lone wolves of the fundraising world.  Good major gifts fundraisers are lone wolves, general fundraisers make better managers.

I thought about this.

And I don't agree.

I vehemently don't agree.

Here's why:  major gifts fundraising is a team sport.

There seems to be a lot of myth making around the art of bringing in Big Money, as though major gifts fundraisers are sprinkled with magic fundraising fairy dust. Much as I would like to be sprinkled with magic fairy dust of the wish granting type, it just is not true.

Sure, there's a thing about instinct.  And there are particular skills - rapport building, sensitivity, sensing what's happening in a room.  But how are you going to get into that room?  Who identified the potential donor?  Who opened the door for you?  Who gave you the project information?  Took you on a tour?  Designed the publicity materials?  Wrote the reports?

And it's not just about giving credit where credit is due.  It's about recognising that it's not all down to you.  In fact, sometimes the best contribution a major gifts fundraiser can make is stepping to one side - recognising that he or she isn't the best person to take a particular relationship forward and handing it over to a fundraising colleague who is more suitable.

Really high performing major gifts teams aren't those where Major Gifts fundraisers are hogging key relationships to themselves.

Really high performing major gifts teams are those where teams are cross-fertilising opportunities, supporting each other and sharing success.

Really sharing success.  Not just with the support teams, but with other fundraisers.

If you're a really good Major Gifts fundraiser, you should be all about team.  

Lone wolves need not apply.




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