Manage your success.Do you love managing major gift officers? Do you love developing others and getting results through the efforts of others? When one of your major gift officers secures a large gift from a donor they have been cultivating, do you have a rush of joy for them?
These are the questions that Richard and I ask people who manage major gift officers. If we get any hint that they cannot answer with a resounding YES! we know there is probably trouble ahead for the team they manage – or it answers our question of why their major gift program is already struggling.
In my last post, I talked about leaders actively working to help their major gifts program be successful. Today, I want to talk about what kind of management it takes to really manage your major gift officer properly.
Many major gift officers have told us that while they love the mission of the organization they work with, they are on the brink of leaving because they “don’t have a manager.” Well, they do have a manager, but that person is not managing them properly.
The major gift officer becomes frustrated because he isn’t supported in the organization, so he leaves. Ever wonder why MGOs leave every 1.8 years on average? And it’s getting worse.
We really urge you to start valuing management in major gifts. Either hire a good, proven major gift manager internally or consider outsourcing it. In the long term, it will save you money, and you’ll reap much more net revenue if you can make this a priority for your non-profit.
At Veritus, we’ve been managing major gift programs and major gift officers for over a decade. Here is what those years of experience have taught us about what good management looks like for a major gift program:

  1. The manager of major gifts is NOT your best MGO. Management is all about developing people, and your best MGO is about getting results through THEIR OWN efforts. Two completely different things.
  2. Managers usually have a small caseload of no more than 25 donors.
  3. Managers make sure there is a proper structure for their MGOs to flourish in.
  4. Managers hold major gift officers accountable to their revenue goals — they create monthly performance reports.
  5. The manager’s job is to support and advocate for her major gift officers to upper management and leadership.
  6. A good manager will meet with her MGOs individually on a weekly basis, to assure that the MGO remains focused and accountable to the revenue goals and strategies decided upon at the beginning of the year.
  7. A good manager will sit with one of his major gift officers and brainstorm strategy for one of their donors for a good hour, and will love every minute of it.
  8. Having a good manager means they will celebrate with the MGO.
  9. Good managers encourage major gift officers to be better. They help them brainstorm problems and come alongside of them when they struggle.
  10. Good managers invest in training for their people. They know exactly what individuals need to be successful.
  11. Managers that MGOs love to work for do not micro-manage. They encourage the MGO to be out of the office as much as possible, allowing for flexibility in their work schedule. They know how to reward hard work with added incentives like time off and working from home.
  12. Good managers know when, after a long period of helping turn performance around, to fire someone.
  13. Managers who are successful know how to communicate what is happening in major gifts to the entire organization so that there is a greater level of understanding and appreciation for the team’s work.

This is what good, solid management looks like. When Richard and I see this level of attention by a non-profit toward management, we see retention rates of employees well above the average, and growing revenue year over year. Why any non-profit would not want that is beyond us.
You can have this too. If leaders and managers can support major gifts as I’ve outlined over the last two posts, you will see a substantial change in the effectiveness and success of your major gift program.
Invest in good management, whether you do that internally or outsource it. You will have higher ROI, lower overhead, and happier employees… and your donors will be served beyond belief.