graphic saying why do I waste all my precious time“That’s such a waste of time!”

You’ve said it many times; so have I.

But why do you say it? Because you have evaluated (either thoughtfully or with your gut instinct) that how you are spending your time is not getting you to your objective. That’s it – nothing more.

So think about these facts:

  • You are charged with developing major donor relationships and securing revenue.
  • You only have so much time – we have calculated that after the weekends, meetings you have to attend, holidays, vacation, office time, etc. you only have the equivalent of 18 eight-hour days each month to relate to donors. 18 days! It’s fine to argue the point that you have more – but stick with me here on this one point: you only have so much time.

Since both of these facts are true, I think you will agree that how you use your time is a critical area to manage as a major gift officer.

Now, consider these two facts:

  • The donors who are already giving to you are more likely to give than someone who has not given. This is a proven fact in our industry. Yet even though this is true, MGOs, Directors of Development, even CEOs and Executive Directors are obsessed with cold prospecting in major gifts. It is absolutely insane. Think about it. One CEO I know says to her major gift officer: “Look, there are a lot of wealthy people in this city. In fact, here’s a list. Go after them.” And when we respond that there is a lot of wealth and capacity in the donor list the MGO already has, she practically sneers at us with contempt. Really?
  • Only 1 out of 3 or 4 donors who meet your major gift criteria actually want to relate to you. This is a fact. We’ve been doing this work for over 15 years and have analyzed hundreds of donor files and MGO caseloads, and it is a fact that most MGO caseloads, in every sector of philanthropy, are filled with donors who do NOT want to relate in a personal, one-on-one way. So why are they on those caseloads? Because some authority figure, consultant or thought leader said: “If the donor meets your major gift and capacity metric, put them on!” Pure folly.

If you are in this situation – a caseload loaded with non-responding, non-interested donors – then you are wasting your precious time. That is a fact.

That’s why we strongly urge you to qualify the donors on your caseload. We tell you exactly how to do that in a white paper we will send you for free. Please get it so you can start using your time wisely.

But there’s another fact here that you will have to live with, if you start down this path of using your time wisely and qualifying your donor. Here it is:

Some people in your organization will be impatient with how long it takes you to qualify your donors.

This is another very sad fact. So file it away and set your expectations accordingly.

The fact is that qualifying a caseload of donors takes a lot of time – six to eight months, sometimes longer. It is not an easy thing to slog through 450 or more donors who meet your major gift criteria (giving history + current giving + capacity) and find the ones who want to talk to you.

And while you are doing that, there may be some voices around you who will be asking “where’s the money?” That is where you have to remain focused and strong, and take the time needed to build the most important asset in your major gift life – a qualified group of donors who actually want to talk to you.

You see, this is where you should be spending your time. Finding the donors who want to relate to you who have already shown you, by their giving, that there is interest. This is the most important work you can do as an MGO. Don’t waste your time chasing dreams. The reality is that you have donors in your donor file who want to relate to you in a meaningful way… you just need to identify them.

Think about all of this today, and start down the path of using your time more efficiently and effectively.

Richard

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One Comment

  • Jill Rudnitski says:

    Today’s article was interesting and of course I agree. A question: how can you tell whether the donor doesn’t want to interact with the institution, or the major gift officer? I have seen quirky major gift officers with distracting personality traits do a great job engaging donors, while polished, poised major gift officers sometimes have less success. Thoughts about the best way for managers to assign caseload donors to major gift officers to try to predict – and maximize – their success?

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