Regardless of where you work, staff transitions can be chaotic and costly. This is especially true when a gift officer departs and must pass on his or her portfolio to another. Carefully cultivated personal relationships and pending proposals are sometimes lost in the shuffle of personnel. Despite the disruption, the gift officer career path is one especially prone to transitions. On average, gift officers only stay in their positions 2.8 years before leaving for another.
The industry-wide standard of frequent officer turnover holds major giving teams back. Reeher Community institutions see an average reduction of $647,469 in proposals granted as well as an average of 634 prospects per institution that were unmanaged at some point after a departure. Even after a new officer is in place 43.2% of these prospects remain unmanaged. Since transitions are so costly, one way to improve your office’s productivity is to stabilize staff turnover by keeping officers happy in their jobs for a year or two longer than before.
Anticipating a Departure Before It Happens
Anticipating when a departure could occur can help you either retain a valuable member of your team, or prepare the way for a smoother, less harmful transition between officers.
Evaluating performance. Your lowest performing gift officers are more likely to leave within their first two years. After the initial ramp-up, their performance reaches a plateau and may start to lag. Catching the lower performers early gives you an opportunity to train, mentor and hopefully improve their value to your organization.
On the other end of the spectrum, high-performing officers also show reduced productivity before their departures. Their visit activity levels off and ask activity and pipeline development drops. Retaining these valuable, high-performing officers means working with them to reinvigorate their job. This may mean adding new challenges, increasing compensation, restructuring their position – anything you both feel would add meaning and value to the work they do for your organization.
Preparing for a Transition
If your gift officer’s mind has been made up about a transition, then it’s time to switch gears from retention strategies to a process that will help smooth the transition between officers. Here’s how to manage gift officer transitions.