Stop Wasting Your Time With Uninterested Donors
“That’s such a waste of time!”
You’ve said it many times. So have I.
But why do you say it? Because you have evaluated that how you are spending your time is not getting you to the objective you have. That’s it. Nothing more.
So, think about these facts:
- You are charged with developing major donor relationships and securing revenue.
- You only have so much time — we have calculated that after the weekends, meetings you have to attend, holidays, vacation, office time, etc., you only have 18 days a month to relate to donors — 18 days! It’s fine to argue the point that you have more, but stick with me here on this one point — you only have so much time.
Since both of these facts are true, I think you will agree that how you use your time is a very critical area to manage as a major gift officer (MGO).
Now, consider these two facts:
- The donors who are already giving to you are more likely to give than someone who has not given. This is a proven fact in our industry. Yet even though this is true, MGOs and directors of development — even CEOs and executive directors — are obsessed with cold prospecting in major gifts. It is absolutely insane. Think about it. One CEO I know says to her MGO: “Look, there are a lot of wealthy people in this city. In fact, here’s a list. Go after them.” And when we say there is a lot of wealth and capacity in the donor list the MGO already has, she practically sneers at us with contempt. Really?
- Only one in three or four donors who meet your major gift criteria actually want to relate to you. This is a fact. Jeff and I have been doing this work for over 15 years and have analyzed hundreds of donor files and MGO caseloads, and it is a fact that most MGO caseloads, in every sector of philanthropy, are filled with donors who do not want to relate. So why are they on those caseloads? Because some authority figure, consultant or thought leader said, “If the donor meets your major gift and capacity metric, put them on!” Pure folly.
If you are in this situation with a caseload filled with non-responding, uninterested donors, then you are wasting your precious time. That is a fact.
This is why I strongly urge you to qualify the donors on your caseload. Please start using your time wisely.
But there’s another fact here that you will have to live with if you start down this path of using your time wisely and qualifying your donor. Some people in your organization will be impatient with how long it takes you to qualify your donors.
This is another very sad fact. So, file it away and set your expectations to include this one point.
The fact is that qualifying a caseload of donors takes a lot of time — six to eight months, sometimes longer. It is not an easy thing to slog through 450 or more donors who meet your major gift criteria (giving history+ plus current giving plus capacity) and find the ones who want to talk to you.
And while you are doing that there may be some voices around you are will be asking “where’s the money?” And that is where you have to remain focused and strong and build the most important asset in your major gift life — a qualified group of donors who actually want to talk to you.
You see, this is where you should be spending your time. Finding the donors who want to relate to you who have already shown you, by their giving, that there is an interest. This is the most important work you can do as an MGO. Don’t waste your time chasing dreams. The reality is you have donors in your donor file who want to relate to you in a meaningful way — you just need to find them.
Think about all of this today and start down the path of using your time more efficiently and effectively.
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.