Part 2 of a 5-part series: The Mid-Year Major Gift Check Up List
It’s really hard for me to believe that a seasoned major gift professional will, in a moment of major gift suicide, tell his team to just “mail the caseload an ask!”
And yet it happens all the time.
When it does, I just hold my head in utter despair wondering what got into this good professional’s head. How did he get off track? What caused him to depart from what he KNOWS works, and just do the direct marketing thing with his donors and the donors of his team?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, and it seems to me that some of the reasons major gift managers and MGOs themselves get off track on this point are:

  1. They really haven’t been managing the donors on their list as individual persons – so they find it easy and expedient just to “mail them.”
  2. They’ve forgotten that relationship building takes time and, in an act of impatience, they just treat the whole caseload or a group of donors on it as a segment to talk to.
  3. They don’t know what to do with their donors so they revert back to a direct marketing strategy which they know won’t work – but they hold out hope that it will.
  4. They’ve forgotten that all their donors are different – and, therefore, they require individual customized attention.

Whatever the reason(s), this whole business of just approaching each donor on the caseload in the same way is absolute craziness and, if you are doing it, it’s going to kill you and your career. Why? Because you can’t possibly be successful in major gifts until you finally commit yourself to the principle that a donor is a unique individual with special and singularly individual characteristics, motivations and interests.
So, theoretically, if you intimately knew each of the donors on your caseload, you would be able to place them into a value hierarchy from 1 to 150, spending proportionately more time, energy and thought with the donors at the top of the list and progressively less as you approach the bottom.
That is the theory – not all donors are the same. They differ in potential and value. Therefore, you must have a value hierarchy for your caseload.
But here’s the problem. Unless you’ve been with your entire caseload for several years and gotten to know each donor intimately, you can’t practically place each individual in a hierarchy of value – it just can’t be done.
That’s why, until you get to that point of knowledge and experience, you must do the next best thing: classify your donors (tier them) into at least three groups – high value, medium value, lower value. Some MGOs rate their donors A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 and that is probably the best way to go at it.
Here’s why I’m bringing this up right now in this list of mid-year reminders to check:
You need to spend your time very wisely in the next few months leading up to the fourth quarter of the calendar year. And spending your time wisely means focusing more on your higher-value donors.
Have you rated or tiered the donors on your caseload? If not, get busy so you can know where you’re going in terms of moves management plans with them. You cannot afford to treat all the donors on your caseload equally. Nope. Don’t do it.
Stop this week and do this work. It will be some of the best planning you’ve done. And it will lead you to discern WHO to spend your time with in the coming months.
There’s nothing better than talking to the right donor!
Read the whole series — Mid-Year Check Up:

  1. Mid-Year Check Up #1: Look to See Who’s Been Left Behind
  2. Mid-Year Check Up #2: Which Donors Require More of Your Time? (this post)
  3. Mid-Year Check Up #3: Are You Upgrading Your Donors?
  4. Mid-Year Check Up #4: The Two Donors Who Can Give Big!
  5. Mid-Year Check Up #5: Are You Taking Care of Your Heart?