You don’t have the budget to hire a full-time MGO, or you don’t have enough current donors to have a full-time MGO. But you want to either start a major gift program or you have donors that need to be on a partial caseload.
What do you do and how do you calculate a partial caseload?
Jeff and I are asked this question regularly. And here’s what we’d do:

  1. Start with the understanding that a full-time caseload is 150 qualified donors. So, 40 hours a week or more equals 150 donors.
  2. Determine labor available. If you have a half-time person available for a caseload, then 75 qualified donors. If one quarter time, then 38, etc.

Then make sure your part-time MGO actually has that major gift time protected, or it will co-mingle with other work and get lost.
After you have figured out caseload size for your part-time person, then do the following:

  1. Create a caseload pool of available donors your new MGO can qualify from. Remember only 1 out of 3 current donors who meet your criteria for major gifts will actually want to relate. So, if you have a half-time MGO with a goal of 75 qualified donors, you will need 3 times that number for your caseload pool, or 225 current donors. (Learn more about qualifying donors here.)
  2. As your MGO is qualifying donors from the pool they must develop a goal and personalized plan for each donor. (Learn about creating individual plans and goals here.)

At the macro level, this is our approach to part-time MGOs.
There are other labor situations we are often asked about as follows:

  1. The CEO, Executive Director, or President either wants to or is asked to carry a small caseload. What should that number be? In our opinion, it is somewhere between 5-15 donors. We have seen the number be as high as 50, but that is pushing it.
  2. The VP for Development – We think 20-30, not more. There are other very important duties this person must give their time to.
  3. A Board member or other volunteer – Be careful on this one, because you need to vet this person carefully as they will be dealing with a donor who trusts you. Also, you will need to secure this volunteer’s agreement that they will be managed like a paid employee. If they can agree to that, then go ahead. If not, don’t do it. We would suggest 5-10 donors for a volunteer. It could be more if the volunteer has the time. Again, treat this situation with the same diligence and control that you would exercise with an employee. This means a job description, a written commitment to confidentiality related to donor info, a time commitment etc. This is, essentially, an employee who is not paid. Treat it that way.

Part-time caseload work will work very well if you, as a leader/manager, treat the part-time or volunteer MGO as you would a full-time MGO. That means the same amount of discipline, planning and focus.
Part-time does not mean a different way of working. All it means is less time and, therefore, fewer donors to manage. Nothing more. Don’t confuse that, or you will find your part-time arrangement migrating to low or no productivity.
PS – To take your management skills to the next level, consider our Certification Course for Fundraising Managers and Executives, starting next month.