graphic with a camera, book, flowers and cup of coffee with graphic saying making the decision to protect your time admin supportThe value of a MGO is what that person does with a qualified major donor in fulfilling that donor’s passions and interests.
It is not sitting in meetings in the office, or plowing through piles of paperwork and spreadsheets.
But that is exactly what most MGOs are forced to do, because managers and authority figures have not understood that spending the money to give their MGO admin support is the best investment they can make. You might think this last statement is either a little dramatic or just plain false. It is neither. The fact is that the cost of providing admin support to a MGO actually increases the return on investment (ROI) of the major gift effort. Read how I got to that in this blog on the economics of admin support.
But many managers and finance folks are more focused on keeping head count low in the organization. This prevents them from providing the very thing a MGO needs to succeed.
Think about this. Look at how much time it takes to do the following:

  • Research donor giving history, connections and networks
  • Maintain the planning calendar for each qualified donor on your caseload
  • Prepare and send mailings, emails at the MGO’s direction
  • Remind the MGO of the major donor touches that the plan requires
  • Handle all the logistics of donor contacts, including answering the phone in the MGO’s absence
  • Creating and maintaining donor files
  • Securing internal and external resources for donor communications – this is HUGE
  • Making sure receipts and thank-you communications go out on time
  • Keeping and reporting on activity statistics
  • Producing monthly reports for management
  • Providing analysis of donor giving
  • Assuring integrity of donor financial data on reports
  • Handling MGO’s expense report and monitoring the budget

This list could go on FOREVER.
When you really sit down and think about this you, as a MGO, could spend your entire life sitting in the office just doing the work listed above, not relating personally to the qualified donors on your caseload. And THAT, my friend, is what is wrong with most major gift efforts in most organizations.
Jeff and I don’t know why it is so difficult for authority figures and budget managers to understand this basic point: there are two major categories of effort related to major gifts:

  1. Meaningful connection time – that time spent with the donor helping her fulfill her passions and interests.
  2. Back office time – that time spent keeping everything going (the list above) to make sure #1 (meaningful connection time) happens as often as possible.

Seems pretty basic to me.
So let’s say the authority figure has become convinced that there is a need to support you with administrative help. That is good news. But he wants to spread the cost a bit, like to another MGO. Great! If you need to start with one admin person helping 2 MGOs, that is fine. At least you are being supported. We often suggest 1 admin support for 2 MGOs, although a 1:1 ratio can be justified economically.
We have written up a chart that shows the division of labor between a Director of Development, a MGO and an admin assistant. And we have created a sample job description for an admin assistant. You can get both of them by clicking here.
Don’t wait – insist on being supported. It will change everything!