Well here we are already in mid-September, gearing up for the last quarter of the year. As you know, many donors tend to give the largest percentage of their gifts during this time of year.
I’m sure if you review your goals for each of your donors you will find that most of your revenue is expected between now and December 31st. In contrast, you are just coming out one of the least busy seasons: summer.
September is the time to shake the cobwebs out and start cranking it up. Not that you were taking it easy in the summer, because all the good work you did in the summer will lead to a successful fourth quarter of the year, but, well, …you know what I mean.
I know the pressure is on for you. I know because the majority of the revenue of the major gift officers we work with is projected during this time period, and their programs and projects are dependent on that revenue.
Take a breath, have another sip of coffee and let’s talk about some things you can do to ensure you are doing all you can to connect to your donors and help bring in much needed revenue for your organization:
- Get Organized. This is the time to meet with your donors. Many of them were away in the summer and the fall is one of the best times to schedule meetings. You need to get your schedule together. Make sure you are really on top of your calendar. Figure out how many days you have to actually meet with people and how many people you need to meet. Start calling and setting up those meetings. I would make it a goal to see all the donors in the “A” tier of your caseload and as many of your “B’s” as possible.
- Scan your caseload for donors who have lost interest. These are the donors you expected a gift from earlier in the year, but for some reason you’ve lost contact with. Admit it, you have some donors like that. I recommend that you develop a strategy with them to find out what their story is. Remember, at the end of the year, whether the money came in or not, you have to know you did all you can to work your caseload.
- Re-connect with Program. It’s imperative in the cultivation of your donors, especially when you are dealing with complex gifts that require a lot of information, that you and the program folks are “singing from the same page.” Make sure you schedule time to connect face-to-face with your program folks. Additionally, you need to prep your program people for face-to-face meetings with your donors. If you are talking to a donor about a new brain cancer research center, the donor will want to hear from the doctors and administrator of that center. It’s your job to prepare those folks for meetings with donors.
- Make sure you understand where the goal-line is. You would think that this is straight-forward, but Richard and I find that many MGO’s don’t have a clear idea what success looks like at the end of the year. Either they don’t have any goals or, at some point in the year, senior leadership has changed the goals and they haven’t told the MGO’s. I know that sounds crazy, but it happens all the time. So you have MGO’s with a particular number in their heads that they are working toward and you have management with another. The numbers just aren’t matching up. So, get this down. This leads to my last point…
- Get everyone on the same page. If you are a manager, here is some advice. Take some time to bring your entire development team together in the next couple of weeks. Communicate the game plan to your staff for this last quarter. Yep, get the major gifts, direct-response, planned giving, event staff, etc., all together and make sure everyone is aware of where you are and what the goals are. Make sure the calendars are synched, everyone is aware of any issues, and that together, as a team, you are keeping your eyes on the prize.
If you work on the five points above you will be in great shape no matter what happens. The key is to work them.
This is an exciting time of year. If you love this work, you cannot ask for a better time to do your job. Have fun!