#3 in the series: Five Things Leaders Need to Know about Major Gifts

graphic with the words what should we sell resourcesAs a leader you would never hire someone and then not provide the essential tools that the person needs to be successful. You would never do that.
But many non-profit leaders and managers hire MGOs, then they don’t provide them with the one resource they must have to succeed: a list of donor offers, at different price points, that the MGO can present to donors.
Think about this in the commercial world. You hire a salesperson. You sit with him and enthusiastically tell him you’re glad he’s joined your company, and that you’re looking forward to his being successful. The salesperson asks you to go through the products and services of the company that he will be selling, and your response is: “Oh. We don’t have that right now. Just get out there and sell! It will all work out.”
Now as absurd as that sounds, this is exactly what many non-profit leaders and managers do to their MGOs. They say, “Go sit with program. They will tell you everything you need to know. And then get out there and raise money!”
As if that was all there was to it.
So the MGO is not only left to figure out WHAT to present, but he is also left to figure out how to PRICE it.
Not good.
If you are going to be engaged in major gift fundraising and you are going to employ one or more MGOs, this is the one resource (in addition to a computer, office and an operating budget) that you must provide to your MGO. If you can’t or won’t do this, then don’t get into the major gift fundraising arena – because you will likely fail and waste your money.
We have written extensively about how to provide packaged offers, and we would be happy to send you more information. But the essence of providing this very important resource can be summed up in the following points:

  1. Get program, finance and development leadership in a room.
  2. Identify your major program categories and sub-categories.
  3. Take your entire budget (yes, the whole thing) and allocate it to those categories (major and sub). You will have to make some subjective decisions on many of these allocations. And on overhead you will first have to put the direct program costs where they belong, and then allocate the overhead in the same proportions to the total.
  4. Divide what you have done so far into donor offers with different price points. So, now, let’s say, you have one category that subdivides as follows: Social Service / Food & Nutrition / Emergency Services. The whole social service category is $2 million, but the food and nutrition part is $1 million. Of that, the emergency services portion is $800,000. You would take each of the categories and create offers or “packages” that a donor would support. So in the emergency services section you might have $100,000 going to food acquisition, $50,000 going to rent and operation of a food distribution site, and the remaining $650,000 going to provision of food for 1,000 people for one year. You can see how you are already getting to different “prices” for different functions just in the emergency services section. You need to do this with the entire budget. And remember, each donor offer carries its share of overhead. Do not forget this point, as that is how you secure the monies you need to operate with.

Admittedly, this process is more complex than what I have written here. But I think you get the idea. You are taking your budget and creating “product” for your MGO to present to her donor.
That activity is providing your MGO with the one resource she absolutely needs to succeed in major gifts. Take the time to do this. I promise that you will find it rewarding. Not only because you will have a happier and more productive MGO, but also because you will raise more money.
Read the whole series about the Five Things Leaders Need to Know about Major Gifts:

  1. Leaders Need to Know Their Role in Major Gifts
  2. Getting and Keeping the Right MGO
  3. The Resource Every Major Gift Officer Must Have (this post)
  4. The Role of Leaders in Securing Transformational Gifts
  5. Leaders Need to Know How to Evaluate a Major Gifts Program