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You Are Not Ordinary—20 Attributes That Make You Great!

June 17th, 2016 Posted in Fundraising, Major Gift

What is happening out there? I’m seeing too many major gift officers (MGOs) who play small, do enough just to get by, and seem to want to drift through their careers just long enough so they can retire and head to Florida.

How did this happen?

I just want to take these good people (and, yes, they are all good people), and shake them by the shoulders and tell them to wake up! You cannot be ordinary if you are an MGO. Choosing a profession that asks you to bring together donors and need is, in effect, an extraordinary thing to do. There is no ordinary in this profession.

Being an MGO is a vocation. This is not something that’s “just a job.” I believe being an MGO is a high calling, yet Richard and I are seeing many MGOs playing small. I refuse to say they are just ordinary MGOs. I seriously don’t believe that is possible, because the position itself demands too much and has such serious implications for donors and nonprofits that no one would choose the position if they thought of themselves as ordinary.

Yet, many MGOs are playing ordinary. Why are you doing this? Why have you lost your passion?

I believe our profession is in serious jeopardy. Not only is it incredibly hard to find great MGOs today, but it’s only going to get harder to fulfill future demand as nonprofits are finally waking up to the fact they need major-gift programs to be successful.

This is why if you are “playing ordinary” and you have lost your passion for this amazing work, we need you to regain that passion or consider another profession. The position and today’s nonprofits only deserve people who are absolutely passionate about being that bridge between a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs.

If you or someone you know only wants to “just get by” or “skate through” or “ride the job long enough to retire,” you are in the wrong profession. And, if you are new to this and that is your attitude, do not apply to be an MGO.

Being a professional MGO is one of the hardest, most demanding professions there is. It can be brutal, yet it’s also one of the most rewarding professions there is. That stands to reason, right? I mean, anything so rewarding has to equally be as difficult.

Those MGOs who I view as extraordinary are all:

  1. Passionate
  2. Inquisitive
  3. Tenacious
  4. Good-natured
  5. Accountable
  6. Focused
  7. Friendly
  8. Kind
  9. Intelligent
  10. Donor-focused
  11. Confident
  12. Compassionate
  13. Emotional
  14. Practical
  15. Loving
  16. Closers
  17. Spiritual
  18. Humble
  19. Risk-takers
  20. Humorous

Yes, every extraordinary MGO I’ve ever known possessed these 20 attributes. If you put all these together, there is no way you can be ordinary. No way.

If you are one of those MGOs who are playing ordinary, I ask you to look deep into your soul and figure out what is happening to you. At one time, you weren’t playing ordinary. What happened? Do you think you can get yourself back on track and be the extraordinary person you are again?

I think you can. I know you can. I’ve worked with MGOs who for one reason or another lost their passion and over time started to look at their work as just another job. But, through some coaching, management, focus and encouragement, they regained those extraordinary people that were inside of them again and became amazingly successful.

If you find yourself in that position of playing ordinary, I urge you to figure out what’s keeping you in that place. Then you have two choices: Regain that passion you once had or look for a new profession where you can find your real passion. Life is too short not to do that.

Donors deserve the best of you. Your nonprofit does too.


By Jeff Schreifels
May 9, 2016
NonProfit Pro magazine

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