Plan.No one would actually say that out loud.
But in their heart, they just don’t feel like making the effort to do the planning that is necessary for major gift success.
Take our Marketing Impact Chart (MIC) for instance. It’s the central document in a MGO’s life that helps the MGO manage the strategies and touches for every qualified donor on their caseload. If you’re not familiar with the MIC, click the link above and take a look at how it works as a planning tool for the MGO.
We regularly get a version of the “I Don’t Want to Plan” statement as it relates to the MIC. Here are some of the most common:

  1. It’s a separate system from the database. Yes it is. Why? Because all the donor software out there is made for direct marketing and based on an old paradigm of major gifts. Pretty sad, really. All this sophistication on one side and nothing really useable on the major gifts side. Sorry. There are some good things about them, but as a whole, all software systems are lacking the capability to properly manage a caseload of qualified donors. We are engaged in discussions with a software developer to get the MIC operational in Salesforce – but this will take time.
  2. It’s too much work. Yes it is – as is any planning for any qualified caseload. To be successful, you as a MGO need to know and track each donor’s passions and interests, communication preferences, financial history and goals. You need a personalized plan based on all that information that guides you to success with that donor. And to do this, you need a plan. I don’t know how you can do it otherwise.
  3. There’s no way for me to know what’s needed 6 months from now. But you do know! Not all the detail, but generally. If you plan to ask a donor for support in month 8, you know you need to report back on prior gifts and make the case for continued support in months 1-7. Get those steps in the plan so you and your donor are really prepared.
  4. It takes time away from my donors. Hmmm. Believe me, if you don’t plan, you won’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going with a donor, then you likely won’t be getting much time with your donor anyway. And that spells failure.
  5. I don’t know how to use Excel (the MIC is in Excel). Well, now is a good time to learn. Or have an admin or support person do it for you.
  6. It’s double work; why would I spend the time? It is and it isn’t. Yes, there are some components of the MIC (donor information and financial) that will also be in the database. But the MIC is for planning, and the database is for what has already happened. You wouldn’t put meeting notes in the MIC; that obviously needs to be in your database. In our experience, there is no database that allows you to have an easy way of planning and quickly adjusting moves and touch points for 150 donors AND provides a quick view of all of the plan. So it’s worth the time. Plus, once you have it set up it’s quite easy to manage.

These are the reasons we hear most often when someone says “I Don’t Want to Plan.” We understand. But when all the smoke clears it IS worth it – because every MGO that uses it successfully is more focused, more effective, and more successful.
Don’t believe us? We had one MGO who had an experience that showed the value of planning in the MIC. She unexpectedly had a family member diagnosed with an illness that didn’t allow her to continue working full-time. She had to reduce her hours significantly and lean on other team members to continue to support her donors. Because she had a MIC, her supervisor and colleagues could easily see what she had planned for each donor, and they could step in to follow her MIC plans. This allowed those relationships to continue to grow and develop, despite her reduced time.
Another MGO that had no Excel experience and really resisted the MIC said this when she finally completed the MIC and started using it weekly: “You know, I was totally not on board with doing this at first. And the process of creating it was painful, especially since I was learning Excel at the same time. But now that I have it done – in all my 30 years of fundraising, I have never felt so in control and clear about what I need to do every day to be donor-centered and successful. I am so much happier every day when I come into work. This has changed my life!”
Like any planning, it’s almost impossible to get folks to do it. But once done, it produces such clarity of purpose and activity that life becomes rich and free as the MGO goes about the business of helping each of her donors fulfill their passions and interests.
As an act of your will, embrace donor planning – even the parts you don’t like. Because when you do, your life as a MGO will never be the same. (Tweet it!)