We love accountability at Veritus. In fact, we believe it is the “secret” to success in major gifts and for you, the major gift fundraiser.
How do we create this focus and accountability?
We meet every week (or almost every week) with each one of the major gift fundraisers we help manage for our clients. I’ll be honest: right when we start working with our clients, they immediately feel that is way too intense and frequent.
Richard and I get that, but we persist – because after so many years of working with major gift fundraisers and knowing what it takes to be successful, THIS PART, meeting on a consistent basis to help the major gift fundraiser stay focused and accountable, is THE KEY to success.
So what do we do in these weekly meetings? I’m going to give you the outline I follow so that whether you are a manager or an MGO, you can use this guide to conduct your weekly one-on-one meeting.
Before I get into the outline, I want to stress this point with you: this weekly “accountability” meeting should not be created out of a belief that you can’t trust an MGO and therefore you have to keep an eye on him.
No. This meeting is what good management is all about: coming alongside an MGO that is extremely busy, keeping him focused, strategizing next steps with donors and encouraging him in his work. The result of this is that the MGO will create solid relationships with donors, and he will make or exceed revenue goals.
This is how we conduct a weekly meeting with an MGO:
- Quickly review current revenue for the month vs. monthly forecast — if any donors are off goal, we discuss why, and how we are going to get them back on goal.
- We review the notes from last meeting and note the action points that were going to be done the following week. Then we follow up with the MGO to see if those action points have been completed. If they haven’t, we need to know why.
- After the action points have been covered from last week, we ask what other moves she made with her donors and what actions need to be taken in the following week, if any. We write those down.
- What is the plan for this week? The next step we take is to review the MGO’s strategic plan for the month and talk about actions that need to be taken on the caseload. Write down action points.
- Strategize individual donors. We usually ask the MGO to bring to the meeting 2 or 3 donors that she is either struggling with or needs to brainstorm about the next move. As we’re in the manager role, we ask tons of questions that help the MGO figure out what she needs to do next.
- Final question we ask: what do you need help with? Or what can I help you do better?
This weekly meeting runs about 45 minutes. That’s it.
Now, as I told you earlier, when we first start working with new MGOs they think that this weekly meeting is too much. What happens over time is that they want this meeting. It helps them focus on what they have done and where they are going.
If you are a manager, this is one the greatest gifts you can give your major gift officer. And if you are a major gift officer and your manager isn’t meeting with you on a regular basis, I implore you to be proactive and set it up yourself. It’s actually the best gift you can give yourself.
Look, I know you don’t want to do another meeting. But Richard and I would tell you to cancel every internal meeting you can EXCEPT this one (if you have to). Why? Because we have been doing this for years and years and this works!
If it were possible, I’d look you in the eye right now, so you could see how earnest I was being. If you want success as a major gift fundraiser, you have to be focused and accountable to the work you are doing. This is the way to do that.