How to Think About the Cost Of Major Gift Fundraising–a six part series

#2 – The Four Major Gift Players

Is the organization you are working for actually doing any good?  If not, why are you there?  It’s time to get out.  Start looking.

I say this because, for major gifts to succeed, not only in revenue generation, but also in maintaining the right cost, you have to have a meritorious cause or “product”.  If you don’t, there will be a lot of money spent to “dress it up”. That is why the first of the four major gift players is…

Player #1:  A Credible and Needed Product/Service.  Having a solid product/service must be in place and operating effectively if you are going to succeed in raising major gift money.  When I scan through the list of charities at Tax Exempt World (www.taxexemptworld.com) I just can’t believe how many non-profits have been created, probably by well meaning people, that just can not and will not pass the smell test of a good cause.  Does yours?  And is it packaged in a way that donors can understand it?  (In a later post we’ll get into packaging program for major donors – an area that is desperately needed in most every non-profit we’ve seen).

OK, let’s say you have a good cause – a solid product/service.  You now have something to offer a major donor, our second major gifts player…

Player #2:  The Right Donor.  In major gifts, the “right” donor is one who meets three criteria.  They have provable inclination to give, they have provable capacity to give and they want to relate to you in a personal way.

Inclination means that they are currently giving at your major gift level – emphasis on current and at your major gift level.

Capacity means they have the ability to give a gift that would qualify as a major or large gift – somewhere between 5 and 7 figures.

The last criterion is that the donor wants to relate to you in a personal way.  Jeff and I have mentioned this many times in this blog.  Just because a donor meets your major donor metric does NOT mean they want to relate personally.  Our experience is that on 1 in 3 major donors, who meet the metric, actually want to relate.  Don’t be loading up your caseload with folks that just are not interested in hooking up with you.

Now we have a good cause and the right donor.  These two players need to rest peacefully into a welcoming and competent development function in the organization, our third player:

Player #3:  An Effective Development Function In The Organization.  I have to be honest with you on this one.  I see very few effective development departments.  And if this is broken, either because the director of development doesn’t know what he or she is doing or it is organized wrong or it is not funded or managed properly – if it is broken, costs will be out of control, money will not be raised as it should and you will be one miserable employee!  Face it, if this is your reality, you likely can’t change it and you, most assuredly will not succeed in major gifts.

This leaves one final player…

Player #4:  A Qualified and Effective Major Gift Officer.   The fact that you are reading this tells me that you are a learning person – you want to know how you can be more effective in your job.  There are a lot of people like you.  And there are quite a few that just should not be in the job – they are the primary reason the major gift program is not working.  They should leave.  How do you fit it?  Do a reality check with me on this point and check yourself against a list I have on what makes for a qualified and effective MGO.  Write me at rperry@veritusgroup.com and I will send it to you.

Here is how all these four players align to the subject of learning how to think about the cost of major gift fundraising.  If any one of these players is non-functioning or marginally functioning, costs will go up which means the return on investment will go down.  Put simply, you will have a failing  major gift program and there will be nothing you can do about it.

These four players, when functioning properly, create a context for success.  That is why we look at them very carefully when we are engaged to help in a major gifts program.  They are critical to your success.  So, take a look at them and make them work better, if you can.  And I guarantee that you will experience more success in your major gift fundraising efforts.

Richard

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About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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