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How to collaborate with your Major Gifts officer to raise more money

How to collaborate with your Major Gifts officer to raise more money

This article previously appeared in Gift Planning in Canada (February 2016 Edition)

Collaboration between Major Gifts and Planned Giving officers results in raising more money.Collaboration between Major Gifts and Planned Giving officers results in raising more money for your organization’s mission. Success lies in understanding the differences in mindset between both the fundraiser, and the donor prospect.

The Fundraiser

If you are a small shop where you are both Major Gifts AND Planned Giving, switching from your Major Gifts hat to Planned Giving hat is as easy as shifting mindsets. Getting good at doing this during donor conversations will help to build trust with your donors, regardless of which portfolio they fall under.

If you’re a bigger shop, working alongside your colleague the Major Gifts officer can be extremely successful. Use the chart below to understand your colleague’s nuances and mindset for his/her conversations and next steps with donors.

Major Gifts Planned Giving
Fundraiser Mindset Looking for ways to connect and create urgency for a project, a program, or initiative. They are moving people through the Major Gifts cycle. Furthering the relationship is key. There is no heavy handed sell or angle besides getting to know people better.  This is an exploratory conversation where you might look for opportunities to introduce the idea of a legacy gift.
Great open-ended questions What’s the one thing that our organization should never stop doing? Can tell me about your first gift to our organization. What was it that motivated you to give to us? Growing up, who taught you about philanthropy?  How to your gifts uphold your core beliefs?
Timeline to secure gift 12-18 months When the donor is ready. On his/her timeline.
 Where will donor meetings take place? At their office, in a coffee shop, or at home. At home, or another place where they feel comfortable and safe.
Investment  Impact They will get to experience the impact of their gift. They will get to see it in their lifetime. This investment will occur after they are gone. They are imagining their impact on the world after they are gone.
How long will the meetings be? 45 minutes, maximum an hour. 1.5 to 2 hours. Maybe longer.
How to secure  meetings Ask for meeting with specific purpose, at a specific time. Keep your meetings focused and leave before you’ve been there too long. Don’t waste their time. Ask for a meeting to thank them, and update them on the impact of their past gifts. Purpose is to keep in touch, further the relationship.
Biggest challenge in getting the first meeting Busy. Distracted. Nervous about strangers. Not ready to talk openly about death.
Closing statements What information would you need in order to have a conversation about an investment in this project? When would you like me to be in touch again?

Donor profiles for Major Gifts and Planned Giving are very different.  Use the chart below to help your colleague in Major Gifts understand your organization’s Planned Giving profile, and a Planned giving donor mindset.

THE DONOR(s) Major Gifts Planned Giving
Average age of Donor Wide range. 25 to 75 Retired. 65+
Donor Mindset Thinking about their gift as part of a solution to a problem, as one of the good guys who are helping someone. Thinking about their gift as their ultimate gift. The gift of a lifetime, a gift that reflects them as a person.
Donor Money Mindset They are in their prime earning years. They have more time than money. They are not making any more money. They want to support their family and philanthropy. They want to make sure that their money is used wisely, and that it goes towards something important that reflects the way they lived their life.
Donor’s biggest concerns That money will make a difference, that it will be used wisely. That their legacy will live on after they are gone. That they are remembered.
 Gift Decision makers  Donor and/or partner.  Donor and/or partner plus children (but not always) and advisor (accountant, lawyer).
World view and approach to life Their world is vast and busy. They are connected in many ways to family, work, and community. For donors who are no longer working their world is simpler, smaller. They book fewer things in one day.

A collaborative partnership which respects the criteria in these two tables will help Major Gift Officers and Planned Giving Officers earn the trust of each other’s donors and raise more money for the organization’s mission. Use this chart as a starting point for a conversation with your colleague and frame it as a learning opportunity to understand more about how they work with donors. Success grows in an environment where mindsets are respected. When a donor’s mindset is respected and valued by everyone, good things happen!

Like this blog post? You’ll love my Major Gifts Mastery Course. Find out more today.