There are 365 days in a year.
104 of those days get gobbled up in weekends.  (Not saying you can’t work weekends, but stay with me).
That leaves us 261 days.
Blow 50 more days out the door with vacation, business meetings, holidays, etc. – you know how it goes.
Best case, that leaves 211 days to get some work done.  That nets out to just under 18 days a month!  If we were to go further and analyze how those days can be used – with travel time, availability of donors, etc. – the amount of time you have to relate to the donors on your caseload is pretty slim.
I know.  Some managers of major gift programs claim that their major gift officers just do not want to get out of the office and THAT is why revenue is down and things are not going well. Sometimes this is true.
But many times MGOs are prevented from being with their donors because they have been required to use their time for other things like:

  • Attending meetings that are not related to their caseload or major gifts in general.
  • Attending meetings that are related to major gifts but where the information could be distributed by email vs. having a meeting.
  • Taking care of an executive that comes to town.
  • Doing errands or being given assignments that are not part of their job.
  • Doing long complex analysis and reports for management.
  • Doing administrative work.
  • Going out to pick up some gifts in kind.
  • One major gift officer told me that she had to accompany an executive’s wife to shop for a dress!

Is it any wonder that some MGOs can’t get out of the office?  (Write and give me the reasons you haven’t been able to get out – I promise to protect your identity).
Now, I agree, this thing about getting out of the office is not just a management gone crazy thing.  There are plenty of situations we have encountered where a MGOs work performance is not acceptable because he or she is either not motivated and/or skilled to do the job or they are preoccupied with everything else but the donors on their caseload.  So, if someone wants to cast blame there is plenty to go around.
But, here’s the thing.  Something has got to give here.  We just can’t keep going down this same track and expect to have a good result.  Let’s talk about this – all of us – managers and MGOs.  Let’s be honest about what is drawing us away from our good donors.  And, let’s get it fixed.  Here is what I suggest:

  1. Figure out what your situation is.  How much time are you spending in and out of the office?
  2. Identify the “time users” put on you by others that you would eliminate if you could.
  3. Identify the “time users” you put on yourself that you should change.
  4. Organize a time with your manager to discuss all of this with a goal of having more time to spend with donors.

If you are the manager reading this post, you can go through this process as well with your employee.  The point is – have a conversation about helping your good employee relate more to donors and provide the basis for more success in your major gift program.
One last thing.  Many MGOs, whether they are part of a larger team or are in a one person major gift effort, do not have the support they need.  That is why they have to spend so much time in the office not relating to their donors.  Here is how I think a MGO should be supported, with strong direction and participation from the person in charge of development and supported by an assistant:

Notice how, with the proper support, a MGO is released to get out of the office and spend more time with his or her good donors.  That is what is important and will bring lasting results!