An Organizational Block to Success in Major Gifts
Organizing things or work is not everyone’s strong suit. In fact, some of the best sales people and major gift officers I know seem to be (on the surface) some of the most disorganized people I know. They seem to have a heightened sense of intuition that guides them to do the right things.
And then there are folks who have everything in its place all nice and neat. And they look organized, but they aren’t. They have trouble prioritizing and focusing. But it all looks good from the outside.
Contrast this person to one whose desk looks like a combination of a war zone and garbage dump, but who is organized, highly focused and knows exactly where everything is. This person can’t be bothered to put things in nice little piles.
Contrary to some neat-nick’s opinion, being organized is not about what your desk looks like. It’s about having a system that helps you (a) do the right things and (b) in the right priority.
Jeff and I believe that having a system for “doing” major gifts is very important. In fact, we don’t think you can be successful without some sort of system in place—a system that helps organize and prioritize your work with the donors on your caseload.
Several weeks ago, I was talking to a MGO who was having trouble prioritizing his work. There were two causes for the situation he found himself in.
First, he had a boss who was dragging him into work that had nothing to do with major gifts. This boss was adamant that this MGO reach his goals for the year. Sound familiar? Jeff and I see this all the time—an authority figure who double speaks: “Get me the money. NO! Don’t get the money. Come here and help with this!”
Second, the MGO had not qualified or tiered his caseload and he did not have a process in place for systematically managing his donors. While we could do little to corral his boss and stop the deflection of this good MGO into non-major gift areas, I was able to share a major gift system with him which has four points:
- Get the right donors on your caseload. Sorry, we keep saying this. But we also keep seeing that MGOs are still not doing it. By “right” we mean they meet a financial criteria you have set, and they are qualified, which means you have contacted them, and they have signaled that they want a relationship with you. A major gift caseload is no place for an unqualified donor.
- Set a financial goal for each donor.
- Tier them. We’ve talked a lot about this as well. Not all donors are the same. You need to spend more time with some of them. There is a hierarchy to a caseload.
- And finally, put your plan for each donor down on paper or in some sort of moves management software.
It’s this last point—the plan for each donor—that I want to focus on here. While all the other points are relevant to getting your caseload organized, this point, on having a plan and putting that plan in writing, is critical. Without a specific plan for each donor on your caseload, you cannot expect to be successful in major gifts because you will wander through most of your days thinking you are doing the right things when, in fact, you are not doing the right things at all.
You would never take a road trip without some sort of map or GPS system to guide you. So why would you manage a caseload of donors without a written plan for each donor—a plan that has a destination and a path worked out to getting to that destination?
The system we have created is called a Marketing Impact Chart (MIC). The MIC helps you see where you are going and what you have planned for every donor on your caseload. And it helps you prioritize your work, because you can see the tiers, the goals, the communication preferences and the regular touch points for every donor. It is like having your own major gift GPS system.
If you don’t have a good system in place to manage your caseload donors, you need to create one. Buy a commercial CRM version, or use the one we have created. We would be happy to email you a copy just let us know.
Our MIC is not a software program. It is an Excel document that organizes information for your caseload in a way that helps you effectively manage your donors. Let me warn you in advance that getting started with the MIC is a labor-intensive process, because you will need to load in all the information first. But once you have it up and running, you will find it to be a useful guide to managing the relationships you have with each of your donors.
If organizing your work with caseload donors is one of the things you find hard to do, be comforted with the fact that you are not alone. And then take steps to get organized. It will make you more productive and result in happier more fulfilled donors.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.