Third in a Series: 6 Questions Your Major Gift Plan Must Answer

You’ve decided to start a company. But you can’t figure out the product or service side of things. Would you still go ahead and start it? No, you wouldn’t. No product – no sales – no company. Simple. It’s like having an empty warehouse (pictured here) with no product in it. There is nothing to sell.
You’ve decided to buy a company. But you’re not sure why the sales have gone down year after year. You’ve reviewed the sales and marketing plans and they are spot on. You think the sagging sales has had something to do with the product – in fact, you’re sure it does. Would you still go ahead and buy it? No, you wouldn’t. Bad or wrong product – no sales – no company.
You’re looking at joining a non-profit you love, in a fundraising position. Great cause. Great energy. But other than general descriptions of what the non-profit does in its three major areas of focus, you can’t get your hands on specific information on the sub-categories of work.
In fact, as you’ve checked on it, you’ve discovered that the non-profit can’t succinctly state what they’re doing in all the areas they are working in.
Further, the way the finances are organized, there is a very loose connection between the categories and subcategories of work and their budget. If you put those two documents side by side (program doc and budget/finance doc) you can’t see how they tie together.
You’ve also looked at the 990 and the annual report. And those docs are not aligned to the budget or the program plan.
Would you join the non-profit for a fundraising job if they have not figured out this very basic “product” item? No, you wouldn’t. No product info along with related financial info – little revenue coming in – struggling non-profit.
Now, you might think I’m stating this too dramatically. I’m not. There is a serious donor offer (product) problem in the non-profit sector. Serious. And here’s how Jeff and our team know this is true:

  1. Because the non-profit does not have larger gifts coming into the organization – gifts of $50,000 and higher, including 6 and 7 figure gifts. No one has figured out the donor offer thing.
  2. And because the budgets of these organizations are constantly in turmoil, evidenced by shortfalls and the need to have undesignated gifts to cover overhead expenses.

This is why, when you’re writing up your major donor program plan, you have to ask yourself the question: “Do I Have the Right Offers?” You may have some offers. But if your entire budget isn’t reframed into donor offers, you’re headed for trouble in your major gift program.
I know of a non-profit in the Midwest that has a very large budget but very few major gifts. Why? Because no one has taken the time to figure out the product (offer) side of the house. And the result is that MGOs are out in the marketplace meeting with donors, with very little to present to them. And with very little to present, it’s no wonder that those larger gifts are not coming in.
You must have the right offers in hand in order to be successful in major gifts. Do not go out into the marketplace without them. (Tweet it!)
PS — Learn about how to develop these offers by using the Donor Impact Portfolio system…
Read the whole series on Questions Your Major Gift Plan Must Answer:

  1. Do I Have Enough Time? 
  2. Do I Have the Right Donors?
  3. Do I Have the Right Offers? (this post)
  4. Do I Have the Right Talent?
  5. Do I Have the Ability to Stay Focused and Structured?
  6. Do I Have the Right Performance Measurements?