A day in the life.Over the years we have worked with hundreds of major gift officers. Some are good, some are not so good, and some are extraordinary. We’re working with a number of extraordinary ones right now.
The other day, I asked one of these great MGOs to tell me what a typical day looks like, so I could share it with you, to give you an idea of how an extraordinary MGO goes about her day. I thought it would be pretty cool to see how an MGO actually does her work, and she was more than happy to talk with me. She told me that every day is not exactly like this, but this is what is typical for her.
This is what her day looks like:

  1. Exercise – She gets up around 5am to exercise every day at her gym. She says that exercise helps her stamina, and it makes her feel good.
  2. Family time – In the morning she helps her two kids get off to school, and she makes sure they have breakfast together. She volunteers once a week in the mornings to do playground duty.
  3. Office – She gets to her office around 8:15-8:30am, or she works from home. The first thing she does every morning is write out five thank-you notes to her donors and to program staff.
  4. Portfolio briefing – At 9am every morning she has a scheduled portfolio briefing with the CEO. She manages his portfolio along with hers, and she has created a standing meeting to make sure they touch base every day. This meeting goes from 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Donor meeting prep – If it’s a Monday, she is doing research and prep for meetings that are happening Wednesday thru Friday with donors.
  6. Scheduling donor meetings – She takes part of the later half of the morning to start scheduling meetings with donors one month in advance. She said her donors are busy, and they need that kind of lead time.
  7. Lunch with a donor – Her goal is to do three to four lunches a week with different donors. Most of her lunches are NOT solicitations, but she’s trying to find out who the donor is and what he’s passionate about.
  8. Meeting with program – She said she loves to understand what is happening in all the programs her non-profit executes. She likes to spend at least three days a week for one hour talking to program people, watching the programs in action, and sometimes interviewing clients.
  9. Database entry – Every day she allocates 30 to 45 minutes to enter in data on her donors from the day.
  10. Call Donors – She takes time to call donors to confirm meetings for the following week. She stays ahead of it all by working with her dashboard that is connected to her database. She has all her moves entered into the database and in her complete strategic plan by donor.
  11. Meet with colleagues – She told me that regularly during the week, she meets with her fellow development colleagues. They talk through their portfolio donors, and they give each other advice on how to handle certain situations.
  12. Back home – If she doesn’t have a donor meeting or event to attend to, she usually leaves the office by 5:45-6pm.
  13. Family time – She devotes 6:30-8:30 to her family.
  14. Reviews emails – She said she gives herself a little time before bed to review any important emails. She said that it actually calms her before getting ready for bed.
  15. Bed – In bed by 9pm, she reads a good book until 9:30, or earlier if she is really tired.

There it is, a little glimpse into the day of an incredible MGO. I guess what I most appreciated about how she manages her day is that she touches on a little bit of everything. She told me that she likes variety, and that while some MGOs may focus on one thing a day, she likes to “mix it up.”
Well, she is doing something right! She is now the Director of Principal Gifts. I don’t think you have to do it the way she does to be successful, but it seems to work great for her.
What is your day like?
A version of this post was first published in September 2016.