The idea of magic is easy to fall in love with. There must be a secret code, a key, a phrase (“Abracadabra”), a spell, a process. . .
And, if I can just learn the secret and apply it, work will become more frictionless, answers to vexing questions will be more clear, and all will become easier.
As a consultant, I get asked about magic a lot. “What are the key questions to ask on Discovery visits?” “What is the most effective way to get a prospect to confirm a visit?” “What is the key phrase to use when inviting a gift?”
There are, of course, a number of approaches, strategies, and tactics that can be sound and helpful responses to these questions. But, typically, what the questioner is really after is magic. They are asking about the hack, the one-size-fits-all approach that will work in almost every situation, the expert wizardry.
Meanwhile, I get asked far less often about someone’s unique manner or method and what type of approach might work best for them as an advancement professional. Questions like, “I’m very relational in my approach, how do I transition from a conversation being warm, personal, and connected, to becoming more professional and talking about giving?” or, “I like to have gift proposals for prospects that are written down, but, is this always the best approach and when should I not present a written proposal?” are infrequently asked.
Finally, rarely am I asked about consistency and the importance of habits in our work. Questions focused on how to structure a week so that outreach to donors or prospects will stay a priority and not get neglected due to the latest urgency or fire. Questions focused on how to regularly practice a set of phrases, conversational approaches, and transitions that work for you when with a donor.
The reality, of course, is that there is no universal magic. There are no tricks or shortcuts that work every time (or even most of the time).
The reality is that effectiveness in this work depends on you better understanding your manner and being consistent with implementation.
That’s the magic.
Every so often, for Jason’s Blog readers, I will highlight professional development or career opportunities that are worth exploring.
Today, I want to give a nod to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, and the work they are doing to expand and grow their advancement program.
St. Cloud is in the process of celebrating their successful Unleash the Future Campaign and are closing in on raising $40 million on a goal of $32 million. This was their first comprehension campaign in many years and both the president, Robbyn Wacker, and their vice president for advancement and alumni engagement, Nic Katona, are eager to build on this success, grow the team, and dream bigger for their university. It’s an exciting time to be part of the SCSU team and, for the right professionals, a chance to do meaningful work and create a legacy of impact.
Currently, they are seeking engaged, results-driven professionals for the following positions:
Associate Vice President of Philanthropy
Senior Director for Stewardship and Advancement Operations
If you know of anyone who might be interested in these opportunities, I’m happy to share my insights into SCSU, answer any questions you may have, and be a resource for you. Just drop me a note.