MG360: MAJOR GIFT METRICS
MANAGING AND EVALUATING MAJOR GIFT OFFICERS AND FRONT-LINE FUNDRAISERS
Caution: What gets measured gets managed!
Managers of major gift officers: it’s time to stop focusing on visit and activity metrics.
Have you ever found a gift officer meeting repeatedly with the same 20-30 prospects while the rest of their portfolio sits dormant? A team of fundraisers’ average visits per month is not a predictor of fundraising success.
Of course, you should absolutely track visits and outreach activity. But activity without strategy is wasted energy. If what gets measured gets managed, be sure you’re measuring and emphasizing the metrics that drive performance, not just activity.
Successful major gifts programs can be run by focusing gift officers on just three metrics:
- # of prospects qualified
- % of assigned prospects with a documented engagement strategy
- % of action deadlines met
Sound too simple?
Managers, you still need to concern yourself with the number of proposals submitted, rates of accepted proposals, ask vs. gift ratios, and a whole host of other metrics. But those are for you to worry about and intended to guide the management of your team. Let your gift officers focus on meeting the three metrics above; the rest of the equation is your responsibility.
1) PROSPECTS QUALIFIED
In general, the more prospects in qualification, the greater the qualification goal. At the beginning of each year, identify the number of prospects in qualification (or discovery) in each gift officer portfolio. The goal is to move these prospects into cultivation or move them out of the portfolio – either permanently or temporarily. Brand new gift officers may be asked to qualify 100 prospects in their first year. Managers must consider the culture of the organization, the make-up of the gift officer portfolio, and any responsibilities outside of front-line fundraising that the gift officer is expected to meet when setting qualification expectations.
2) ASSIGNED PROSPECTS WITH A DOCUMENTED ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
If an assigned prospect is not in qualification, they need a documented engagement strategy. In most cases, gift officers are responsible for articulating the engagement strategy because they have the relationship with the prospect. It is up to the gift officer to share prospect engagement strategies with their manager for discussion and approval.
You need gift officers to be strategic and deliberate in their portfolio management. Regularly review prospect strategies with your gift officers and recommend course corrections as necessary. Your team should not be leaving the office or picking up the phone without knowing the desired outcome of the action.
As part of developing engagement strategies, every prospect must have an identified next action step. When that action is completed, the gift officer and manager should agree upon the next action step necessary to advance the relationship and the timeframe in which the action will be completed.
3) ACTION DEADLINES MET
Up to this point, a lot of the responsibility has been placed on the manager. That’s why managers make the big bucks! But this is where the rubber meets the road. When gift officers play an active role in defining the strategy and next steps for their prospects, they should expect to be measured on their ability to successfully execute the strategy.
While some things are out of our control – such as global pandemics – gift officers should be expected to meet agreed upon action deadlines. If a gift officer is frequently falling short, compare performance against other gift officers. If the other gift officers are performing at a higher level, this may indicate a performance issue with the gift officer. If other gift officers are also falling short, this may also indicate a performance issue; but this time, the issue is likely the manager.
THE BOTTOM LINE – WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY?
Yes, each gift officer needs to have a revenue and/or commitment goal. These goals should be based on a careful analysis of that portfolio’s potential blended with revenue expectations and needs defined by top organizational leaders. There are so many variables associated with revenue and when it comes in. A gift officer who consistently misses action deadlines and doesn’t qualify a single prospect can exceed their revenue goal with one gift, just like someone can work hard all year and fall short on revenue because of poor timing. That’s why gift officers should stay focused on metrics that are most in their control and, when properly managed, will drive their success.
Fundraising isn’t about building widgets. Success depends on inspiring and motiving people to act on the opportunity to change the world through your organization. Wielding visit and revenue goals like a weapon doesn’t help gift officers inspire support. Managers, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, partner with your gift officers on strategy, and empower them to execute. If your strategy development is strong, the results will follow.
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