Start a Conversation: A Management Golden Rule

When I began my tenure at WGBH as Director of TV & Radio Pledge and Direct Response in 2007, six months after I was initially hired to oversee Radio pledge, I went through a second on-boarding process.

I would be overseeing a department that eventually grew to seven staff members.  The Foundation’s HR partner Heather Guarnotta gave me this valuable nugget of wisdom:  “Your job as a manager is to make your team successful.”

On the outset it seems like a no-brainer: when you strive to support, nurture, develop and celebrate your team, the organization will be successful.  As a manager, by proxy, you too, will enjoy success.

Do you or your manager live by The Management Golden Rule?

I’ve known managers who behaved as if the opposite were true: that the staff was actually there to make them successful.  What happens in that environment is that staff can feel ignored, resentful, unsupported and left holding the bag.  High turnover and low organizational performance can be a result.

I have tried to follow Heather’s advice as best as I could, and I am proud of everything that my teams have accomplished over the years.

It occurred to me that the Management Golden Rule has applications for how we cultivate relationships with donors.  If we modify the rule to read, “Your Job As A Fundraiser is to Make Your Donor Successful,” in other words, being Donor-Centric, the rewards can be transformative.

That approach takes us away from being focused on the organization’s needs and instead helping the donor achieve her personal philanthropic goals.  And I am not just addressing major giving, which already takes an approach that involves a good deal of discovery, cultivation, and the development of proposals that specify donor’s requirements for five, six and seven-figure gifts.

Because giving money to a charity or not-for-profit involves also giving a piece of yourself in the process, it makes sense to me that if we use that rule as our touchstone in Membership, we can develop strong long-term donor relationships.

Start by looking at your letters and pledge drive scripts.  If they look or sound station-centric and are written to communicate the financial needs of the station (e.g., “you help us keep the lights on”), change the wording to reflect the impact the donor will have on the community with her gift.  For example, donors are responsible for helping produce better-informed voters.  Donors help music stations act as megaphones for arts & cultural organizations and artists who wouldn’t normally have access to wide audiences.

This is simply People Helping People Help People, which is a win-win-win.

I encourage you to invest time in polling your donors about favorite programs and their goals, and when possible, notate interests on individual donor accounts.   CDP partners with DonorSearch to provide deeply discounted wealth screening as part of Member Database Enhancements, which provide a good deal of insight that can help fundraisers pinpoint donor interests.

If you raise funds for a TV station or joint licensee that offers Passport, CDP offers a Member Analytics Engine that will pull Passport viewing data into individual accounts to cleanse, distill, and analyze the data to provide your fundraisers with actionable intelligence.

If you have more tips on using the Management Golden Rule to help make donors more successful, let us know!

Barry NelsonComment