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It’s About Confidence…Personal and Professional

Austin powers

I just spent a four-day weekend with 35 highly motivated and talented advancement officers who are working to become Master Gift Officers. As I both trained and observed them, I came to the simple realization that the key to their success, and that of most people for any endeavor, is the necessity to have and project confidence. This also goes for the stakeholder corporations advancement officers represent.

Easier said than done!

Starting at the top, the personal mission of advancement officers need to be aligned with the mission of their organization. If you think you are on this earth to help children, then working for an historical society may be a stretch and not aligned with your personal mission.

There is also the matter of institutional self esteem that affects the organization’s confidence in seeking high-powered board members and transformational giving. Leadership may not see the organization’s work as being important enough or effective enough to seek beyond its “reach”. If your organization does not have the confidence to recognize its importance, then it is your role to help them by securing proof of concept gifts and support, or you may want to move on.

Then there is the personal and professional confidence that needs to be embodied by the advancement officer. When interacting with donors or prospective donors, there is no hiding your dis-ease if it is there. Your lack of alignment with mission or the case for your campaign or initiative will be reflected in your body posture, facial expressions and tenor of your conversation.
Your feelings of anxiety, discomfort, questioning of timing, uncertainty about giving capacity, trepidation about the ask amount… will be seen or felt by the donor.

So how do you build your confidence? How do you find your mojo? How do you get into “flow”? Where do you find your power? It is all there to be had.
At their core, master gift officers are: authentic; active listeners; care about what is being said; honest in feedback; knowledgeable about mission and organization; and, want the donor to feel their giving to your cause is a gift to themselves as well.

The just completed planMGO 4-day Master Gift Officer Event, has for the past eight years, enabled advancement officers to find their confidence, understand their own brilliance and be proactive in all aspects of relationship building. We are proud of the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received about the program that can be found at

Your takes:
1. Having and portraying authentic confidence is key to successful encounters.
2. Steps can be learned to help gain confidence in many aspects of your work through appropriate training, working with a mentor and self reflection.
3. Invest in yourself and your organization to reap the rewards of exceptional relationships with your donors.

For more information about Copley Raff and its spectrum of consulting services, please see Follow CRI on Twitter @copleyraff.
The next Master Gift Officer Event is March 31-April 3, 2017 in Boston. The 2016 session sold out.