finishline 2014-Oct17
Here we are in mid-October, and you have two and a half months until the end of the year to make or exceed your major gift revenue goals.
I’m writing to tell you it’s not too late to get it together and finish the year strong. You have time to evaluate, make a plan, and execute on it to see great results.
Here is what I’ve done with all the major gift officers that I work with this year to help them get their focus, communicate to their boss and have a clear path toward execution.

  1. Evaluate your entire caseload. Go through every donor and figure out if they are on track for the goal you’ve set, over that goal, or if they are in jeopardy of not making the goal. Then write up a report alerting management where you are. Yep, be proactive with it. You’ll have good news and bad news, and you need to communicate that to your team.
  2. Get “in front of” the donors who are behind. For those donors that are behind in their goals, you need to evaluate each one by how likely they are to meet or exceed their revenue goals: Highly likely, likely, not likely. Get a handle on it. Once you have that, report that out to management. They need to know what is or isn’t going to happen. Just know that some donors will not be able to give this year for all kinds of reasons. For those donors, much of it is beyond your control – but it’s still important to communicate it to management. Being proactive in October is much better than having to explain it all in January.
  3. Create a micro-strategic plan for the donors who are behind. While you already have a plan for all your donors, now is the time to really focus on the donors who are in jeopardy of not making the revenue goal you set forth. How can you get in front of these donors that are behind? Have you tried calling them at odd hours? Is there a connection with a board member or another donor that you haven’t thought of yet that can help you? Have you sent a handwritten note of thanks recently? What was the last “you made a difference” touch point that you sent to the donor? Have you thought of a new offer to challenge your donors? These are just some of the things I ask the MGOs I manage to consider. The point is that at the end of the year, you need to feel like you have done all you could to obtain a gift. If you can feel good about it, then that’s all you can do.
  4. Try a second or third ask for donors who have met or exceeded their goals. Many times I find MGOs who get complacent and think just because one of their donors has met their revenue goal they can just put them in “stewardship” mode. Wrong thinking. First, your donor does NOT know they met or exceeded their goal, and second, donors who give are more likely to give again IF they have been properly thanked and they feel confident their gift is being put to good use. So don’t be afraid to put something new in front of them to consider before the end of the year. If you’ve done all that good work and the donor is in the giving spirit, you should ask again.

So, don’t panic. You have time to finish the year strong. I know there are all kinds of things right now that are distractions. Don’t let them pull you away. If you go through this exercise, it will help you focus on your donors and get you in the right frame of mind to end the year the way you want to end it.
Finish strong.