This post is specifically directed to managers of MGOs, and to MGOs who don’t really have a manager. Yeah, I know, you might have someone to report to, but if you’re honest they are not really managing how you do your work. Unfortunately, there seem to be quite a few MGOs in this position.
Over the years, Richard and I have talked to many MGOs. Often they will boast, “hey, I don’t need a manager, I’m doing just fine on my own.”
Oh really? Then why, when you look behind the curtain, do you see a disaster going on? The management of major gift officers in our industry is fairly pathetic. There are too few good managers, and this is one of the reasons you see job-hopping with so many MGOs. They do not have a safe and nurturing place to grow.
However, if you are a manager or an MGO in need of a manager, one way to stay focused and accountable is to perform a review of their/your work at least annually.
We’re at the end of January now, so by now you should have all your year-end giving in the books. You should have time to review your caseload. Here is what I would suggest you look at:

  1. How did your caseload donors perform compared to your goals? Yes, I want you to evaluate your overall number, but I also want you to review it donor by donor. Each donor should have a reason why they made goal, came up short, or exceeded the goal. That should be in your report on a spreadsheet. You might be asking why you need to have an explanation, if they exceed their goal? Because it may not be achievable the next year, and that needs to be recorded and explained. We have one client who had over $6 million in one-time gifts last year that will not repeat this year. This is important information to have out in the open.
  2. How did your caseload perform compared to last year’s results? So you’ve compared revenue to goals by donor; now I want you to compare total revenue this year vs. last year. This gives you Value Retention: how much is my caseload worth now vs. last year. You may not have the exact same donors on your caseload as you did last year, but you need to evaluate overall growth. The idea here is that each year your caseload is becoming “stronger” and more productive – the average revenue per donor on your caseload is increasing. If there are anomalies, that should be noted. Remember, you’re trying to grow your caseload not so much in numbers (once you reach no more than 150), but in average value per donor.
  3. What is your caseload donor retention rate? This is different than revenue. This is about how many donors you are retaining year over year. You want to strive for a 95-100% retention rate. Let me tell you, when we evaluate caseloads that have not been cultivated or stewarded correctly, we see attrition in the 30%+ range. That is NOT good.

Those are the three MAIN areas you need to evaluate. But here are some other “softer” areas to use to either self-evaluate or evaluate the MGO.

  • How many face to face visits, touches, etc., did you have with donors? Many times this is all MGOs get evaluated on. Richard and I place less value on these areas because we’re mostly concerned about revenue and retention. In almost every circumstance where an MGO meets or exceeds her goal with every donor, it’s because she is doing all these things well. If not, this is where we look to see if the MGO is “out there” doing the work. I would add that even more important is this: are all your “moves” recorded in your database? They had better be. This is another area to evaluate.
  • How well did you contribute to the Culture of Philanthropy in your organization? To us, this is huge. What I like to evaluate here is how well you work with finance, program and the executive staff. How are you promoting the organization to your donors? How are you promoting donors to the organization and bringing them in? How do you talk about donors to the staff? (Get our free White Paper on building a culture of philanthropy by clicking here.)

These five areas are what MGOs should be evaluated on at least once per year. We recommend, however, that you have these metrics reviewed quarterly, so that if there needs to be a course correction, it can be done in time to make your revenue goals and reset expectations of revenue – if need be.
As a manager of an MGO, these are the critical areas to evaluate; and now is the time to start implementing them with your team. If you’re an MGO on your own, the reason you want to evaluate yourself is because you want to be GREAT! Find someone either within your organization or even an outside mentor to hold you accountable to these five areas, and talk with them honestly on how you did.
Let me be clear. All great MGOs that Richard and I have known VALUE these metrics, and they value being evaluated. They desire honest feedback that will help them be better at their work. You want that too.
Start today.
PS — An entire half of our new book is devoted to organizational issues like developing a Culture of Philanthropy. Click here to read more about It’s Not JUST About the Money.