Came across the following on veritusgroup.com and thought was worth sharing, some great insights/pointers.
It’s a serious dilemma.
The organization needs the money; they have the donors to deliver the money, but there is no major gift strategy in place to secure the money. This confluence of need, opportunity and planning usually results in a lot of impatient leaders.
Just last week I sat in a meeting where a manager was visibly upset at the slow pace of revenue generation. When I tried to explain that relationships take time, she brushed me aside and said: “Look, all you have to do is ask.”
And therein lies the organizational problem for many major gift programs. Management needs the money, and major gift people are told they need to deliver it “right now!”
This is a path to certain failure because the MGO, in this type of hostile and urgent environment, will focus on the money rather than helping a donor fulfill her passions and interests. And we all know that a focus on the money is a sure way to alienate a donor.
Reasonable managers and leaders know that good relationships take time – that you don’t just pounce on a donor and squeeze the money out of him. But these same managers often ask Jeff and me how long it should take to gain traction in a major gift program. “How long,” they ask, “does it take to have a fully functional program in place?”
We think it takes a minimum of 18-24 months to start a major gift program and have it become fully functional. Why so long? There are several reasons:
- The organization needs to hire the right MGO. This could take six months when you consider the time it takes to agree on the job description, get the proper authorizations, search for candidates, interview and vet the candidates and then finally hire them. I haven’t seen this process take less than four months. So let’s say it takes four months –although many times it takes longer.
- The MGO needs to qualify donors for a caseload. Why? Because only 1 in 3 donors who meet the major gift criteria will actually want to talk to the MGO. So the MGO has to go through a labor-intensive process to find 150 donors who will relate to him. This step alone will take 6-8 months. Let’s say six, even though that is being generous.
- Relationship building takes time. While the MGO will qualify donors early in her tenure with the organization, 8 to 10 months will have passed before she actually starts engaging seriously with donors. And building relationships (as you know) takes time – more time than most managers think it will take.
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