When it comes time to build or expand a major giving team, leaders tend to wrestle with managerial questions such as, how many officers are enough? When does it make sense to add a gift officer? What is the best way for managers to set goals and gauge success? We will be answering these questions over a series of blogs that will present key areas to consider when adding a gift officer to your team. We encourage you to walk away from the common rule of thumb of adding a gift officer for every incremental $1 million you want to raise. Instead you want to understand the types of prospects your new and tenured officers should be concentrating on as well as how important prospect assignments and first-time visits are for meeting fundraising goals.
We talk often about three types of donors higher education fundraisers run into: Bluebirds (unexpected gifts from donors who like something unique at your institution that drive the donor’s affinity), Evergreen (your tried-and-true donors who are reliable donors and well-known in your fundraising organization), Pipeline (a group of potential donors who are in the Discovery, Cultivation or Solicitation fundraising phases)
Each of these groups see your institution differently and will also react differently to increased investments and efforts to reach them. Knowing where to invest to improve your chances of getting donations from each of these groups enables you to make confident decisions in adding staff, assigning prospects, and setting expectations. Adding new officers to cultivate Pipeline prospects can add considerable value to the team’s discovery and relationship building efforts, creating long-term value for the institution.
Since the value of additional gift officers comes from Pipeline activities, it is important to identify the best possible prospects using a disciplined approach for making contacts, undertaking discovery, and generating proposals. In turn, having tools in place to help officers maximize their efforts is critical. We know through benchmarking the Reeher Community Institutions, that on average, 66% of high valued prospects remain unassigned. The benchmarks also show that the average time between a first-time visit and a major gift ranges from 4.87 years for a $10,000 major gift to 6.01 years for a $50,000 gift. We estimate these metrics are similar in your organization. The data clearly show that before you add a resource, you need to recognize that soliciting major gifts is a long-term investment. For this reason, finding the right Pipeline prospects early in a new officer’s tenure can be critical to your long-term success.
Reeher’s predictive models and scores are designed just to do that. Customized for each of our Reeher Community institutions, officers and leaders can easily find the best prospects without having to interact directly with the cumbersome donor database. Complete donor lists and drill downs into a comprehensive donor profile gives all the information needed with a few clicks of a mouse or tap on a mobile device.
Our whitepaper Key Areas to Consider When Adding A Gift Officer helps you discover how to use your staff for your best return on investment. Download your copy to learn more about the different business cases to consider before making your next hire.