This weekend I went with my wife and some friends to see the movie Moneyball. Great flick and one I highly recommend. One of the reasons I loved it so much is that in part the movie is about going against conventional wisdom and birthing something new that no one thinks has real merit…until it actually works.
Well, today, I want to talk about something that in the Major Gift world seems to be one of those unconventional ideas…yet, it’s right there in front of our face.
Back in my agency days with Domain Group, planning for our client’s direct-response program was a non-negotiable. Every client had at least a 12-month plan where every step for every action had a specific date attached to it. Attached to the plan was a budget along with a proforma of how we expected any action to perform.
It was quite impressive. Clients loved it because they knew exactly what was going to happen and it held us (the agency) accountable to what we said we were going to do.
It was that discipline of planning that Richard Perry, my business partner, brought to his major gift work years and years ago and it’s one we use today with our current clients.
Here’s the funny thing though. For some reason many of the major gift programs we have audited and reviewed have NO WHERE NEAR the discipline and focus as their counterparts in direct-response…not even close.
That continues to blow me away. Why? Because the major gift program is usually responsible for the majority of the revenue coming in! How can you NOT put the same amount of time and energy into solid planning, budgeting and revenue forecasting that you would for a direct-response program?
I don’t know, perhaps its because dealing with individuals makes you think having a strategic plan is a little too “planned” for relationship building, that somehow it needs to be more natural and (I love this) organic?
Whatever it is, you have to get over it. Creating a strategic plan for every donor in your major gift program is absolutely critical to your overall success.
- It allows you to have a roadmap to know where you are going. This is so important. If you have a revenue goal this allows you to figure out how you’re going to make it.
- It gives you a structure and framework. This doesn’t mean you can’t go off or change the plan at times, but a strategic structure helps you be more creative in the type of tactics you employ during the course of the year.
- It’s impressive to your boss. Really, it is. If you present a full-year plan for everyone of your donors that has revenue goals attached and cash-flowed by each month, you’ll blow him/her away.
- It keeps YOU accountable. Now, you might be thinking, “Why would I want to do that.” But, I’m telling you it will guide you to stay on track and on top of all of your donors.
- It works! It seems in the Major Gift world everyone is looking for the ONE BIG donor, the right board members or the big campaign or event that will take you to the next level. But, in our experience what works is staying focused on your donors, working the plan and staying accountable to it. It’s not sexy, but it works!!
Next post I’ll go through the elements of what really makes a good strategic plan so you have some good ideas to take with you.