What Great Major Gift Management Looks Like–#3 Evaluation

Every person deserves to be evaluated for the work that they do.  Unfortunately, in the non-profit world, Richard and I often find that major gift officers are either never evaluated or evaluated using the wrong criteria.

In some cases it can be pretty severe.  I’ve interviewed major gift officers and asked them how they’ve been evaluated, and they’ll say, “What evaluation?  I’ve never had anyone tell me how I’m doing.”

You’ve got to be kidding.  But this happens more often than you think.  Because many non-profits have this “mission-mindedness” about the work they deliver, not only are they forgetting about the donors, they are also taking advantage of their employees.

And, yes, I would use language that strong to describe it.  If you are not evaluating your staff at least on a yearly basis on the right things, you are taking advantage of your employees.

I’ve even heard managers and leaders actually tell me, “Well, our staff doesn’t want or need to be evaluated.  They don’t like having us ‘hover’ around them.  “Hover?”

When I hear things like that it makes me feel bad for all the employees.  Some folks might say, “Jeff, just let it go.  What does it hurt if they don’t do evaluations?  As long as the employees are happy and they keep getting pay raises, who cares?

I would say to that person, “Look at the times in your life when you could say you learned something important about yourself and changed your course or a behavior.  It was most likely when someone spoke truth into your life.”

There are two reasons to do a thoughtful evaluation of your major gift officers.  The first reason is to speak truth into their lives to help them grow as professionals and individuals and the second is to protect the non-profit in order to show that, over time, an employee is just not a good fit.

Richard and I believe that most people don’t receive enough evaluation and feedback in their lives.  Because of that many people are walking around unaware of who they are.  If you are a non-profit leader or manager, you owe it to your staff members to give honest, constructive feedback in an effort to help them grow as individuals.

I will tell you that for me, personally, one of the greatest things Richard brings to our relationship is his willingness to speak truth into my life.  And I will do the same for Richard.  We’ve committed to each other to bring up hard issues that we see in the other that may be holding us back professionally and personally.

Most people don’t have that.  This is why a good, truth-telling evaluation can be one of the greatest gifts you give to your staff.

Now another thing I see when non-profits are conducting evaluations is that many are not evaluating their major gift officers with the right criteria.  In fact, I’ve seen major gift officers being evaluated on the same criteria as the front-desk person.

That’s nutty, folks.  It just once again shows the lack of thoughtfulness that leadership has for the employee.

I urge you to do the right thing; really spend time creating a solid, thoughtful evaluation process.  You want to be evaluating two major areas: Aptitude (does the MGO show the technical and knowledge skills for the job) and Attitude (how does the MGO conduct himself/herself with leadership, peers and donors).

Here are some areas to evaluate under aptitude:

  1. Revenue Goals—Have they achieved their revenue goals for the year?  Have they increased their revenue year over year?
  2. Attrition Rates—Are the donors on the caseload giving year over year? On this point is the MGO achieving the goals by donor that have been set?
  3. Significant touches—How many personal visits has the MGO made over the course of the year?  Have they connected with donors at events ? How many phone calls?  These need to be tracked.
  4. Proposals/Asks to close rate.  How many solicitations were made to donors and how many were successful.

Here are some areas to evaluate under attitude:

  1. How well does the MGO communicate to leadership, his or her peers and to donors?
  2. How well do MGO’s take direction?
  3. Do they work well as part of a team?
  4. Are they self-starters and are they proactive?
  5. Do they have an attitude for service and “others”?

Finally, I want to make it very clear that any evaluation you conduct should NEVER be a surprise.  The worst thing you can do is blindside the employee with a bad evaluation at your yearly review with a bad assessment.

To avoid something like that it’s very important to meet with your MGO weekly on tactics, monthly on individual donor goals, quarterly on strategy and overall caseload goals and finally, yearly on an overall assessment of the individual.  If you are doing all this during the course of the year, the MGO’s will know where they stand and how well they are doing.

Do your major gift officers a favor.  Speak truth into their lives with an honest, thoughtful evaluation of their work.  It will do you, the organization and your employee a wonderful service.

You owe it to the folks you manage.



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!
This entry was posted in Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Non-Profits, Philanthopy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Great Major Gift Management Looks Like–#3 Evaluation

  1. Mark Egge says:

    Great post! Evaluation and feedback fall into that bucket of “things managers don’t always do well… if they do them at all.”

    I _especially_ appreciate your comment that “any evaluation you conduct should NEVER be a surprise. The worst thing you can do is blindside the employee with a bad evaluation at your yearly review with a bad assessment.”

    I think many managers make the terrible mistake of providing constructive criticism/negative feedback (whatever you want to call it) ONLY at the annual review time. To me, the annual review is an opportunity to recap and summarize all the things we’ve _already_ talked about through the year.

    Glad I found your blog — I look forward to reading more!

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