Chaos.When Richard and I are out talking to prospective clients, one of the questions they often ask us is, “For the clients you have worked with that were NOT successful, what were the contributing factors?”
We love this question, because it allows us an opportunity, right up front, to tell the prospective client the truth about what they need to do to be successful with Veritus… and have a growing major gift program.
The #1 answer is that leadership and management have to be on board and supportive of the process and the major gift officer. And #2 (closely is connected to #1) is that the MGO has to work within a structure and cannot be allowed to be distracted by anything outside of working her caseload.
Click here to find out what this structure involves!
Recently, I’ve been sitting around quite a few board room tables presenting our major gift assessment, and I’ve listened to leaders and managers try to explain why their major gift program is not growing.
The stories I hear are all about some kind of “outside distraction” that has nothing to do with actually working and developing relationships with donors.

“Well, we have 10 events a year, and it’s very hard to focus on individual donors.”
“Our CEO decided to take a 3 month leave of absence, and that put everything into chaos.”
“The VP of Development took another job, and we were left without leadership for six months.”
“Our program area was in crisis, and that took a while to get straightened out.”

Listen, every non-profit Richard and I have ever encountered has “distractions” and some chaos attached to it. But the successful organizations have had a structure with their major gift program and have given MGOs time to focus solely on their caseloads. (Tweet it!) If you do this, then you will have a major gift program that is thriving.
When you are not working within a structure – and you are not managed properly – you’re opening yourself up to being sucked up into your organization’s GIANT HAIRBALL – and then you get lost and fail within 12-24 months. This is one of the main factors why you’re constantly moving from job to job.
This is a failure of leadership and management.
I cannot be clearer: work your caseload. If you have a revenue goal and a strategic plan for every one of your 150 qualified donors, they are tiered, and you have a system of accountability to remain focused… YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.
If you stray from this one tiny bit, you leave yourself vulnerable to failure. Why? Because you are no longer developing relationships with your donors. You are doing something else.
Richard and I love hearing the stories of major gift officers that, despite all the chaos around them, continually meet or exceed their revenue goals. How do they do it? They work within a structure and stick with their plan. Very simple… and you can do it too.