Pull red person.If there is anything that you could do right now to make your life easier as a major gift officer, it would be to make sure all your donors are qualified. This means that the donors in your portfolio not only made a qualifying major gift, but they actually want to relate to you in a personal, meaningful way.
I cannot tell you what a difference this will make as you cultivate and steward your portfolio.
Yet in almost every portfolio we first encounter with a major gift officer, there are dozens and sometimes hundreds (yes, you read that right) of donors who are sitting in a portfolio frustrating that major gift officer.
Why is it frustrating the major gift officer? Because the donor doesn’t want a relationship with you. They don’t want you to call, write or visit. And if you don’t know weed these people out of your portfolio, you’re going to be pulling your hair out.
In fact, only about 1/3 of donors who give you a major gift want to relate to you in a personal and meaningful way. 33.3333%! That’s it.
I’m going to be even more blunt. If you don’t qualify your portfolio, you cannot call yourself a donor-centered fundraiser. You’re either just out to make some kind of unrealistic number or revenue quota to look good on reports, or chasing donors who don’t want to be caught in some kind of quirky game of yours.
Richard and I get calls all the time from worn-out MGOs who are about ready to quit because they’ve been handed a list of 500 donors and told to bring in a million dollars from it. This is a real, everyday occurrence, folks!
But even if you only have a full caseload of 150 donors and only a small portion of them are qualified, you will end up equally frustrated. Your day will consist of trying to reach out to donors who never pick up the phone, respond to an email or RSVP for an event. Day after day, you’ll sit in your office panicked, because you can’t get any meetings with donors.
Besides making your life much easier on yourself, another reason it’s important to qualify your portfolio is because it’s good stewardship of your organization’s resources. Why would your organization want to pay you to cultivate donors who don’t want to be cultivated?
It’s a total waste of their money. Yet they keep doing it.
Do you and your organization a favor, and spend the time and energy to properly qualify your portfolio. (Tweet it!)
If you want to know exactly how to do this, step by step, click here and you can download our free white paper that tells you in great detail what to do. We even give you sample letters and call scripts to use.
I’m going to be honest with you. I think one of the reasons most portfolios are not qualified is because it takes a ton of time and energy from the major gift officer to do this work. And, in many cases that Richard and I observe, leadership is too impatient to allow this work to be done right.
You have to understand this about qualifying donors:

  1. It takes time: It could be anywhere from 3-8 months. Just accept it.
  2. It’s hard work: You have to be consistent in your approach, follow a structure and be patient.
  3. It’s the best thing you can do if you want to be successful.

Think of having a full caseload of qualified donors as if you were slowly opening a door, and on the other side are rays of sunshine, singing birds, water fountains and the sound of violins playing.
I’m telling you from our experience working with hundreds of major gift officers – this is the difference a qualified portfolio can make.
Knowing you now have a full portfolio of donors who actually want to relate to you, will take your phone call, will return calls, and will sit down with you face-to-face – it’s a completely different place to work from.
If right now you’re working a portfolio of unqualified donors, you have a chance to turn your life around. Take the time to do major gifts right.
Jeff
PS — Again, here is the link to download our white paper to guide you through this important process.