Welcome to Day #2 of Fearless Fundraising’s tutorial on building the systems that lead to major gifts success.
Yesterday we talked about adopting a new perspective on major gifts officer (MGO) portfolios. I encouraged you to think of your portfolio not just as a list of names, but as a major gifts pipeline.
Once you understand your portfolio as a pipeline you can get into the real work: optimizing it so that it delivers a steady stream of major gifts.
So, how do you get more out of your pipeline?
You put more into it!
Is it really that simple?
Well, in theory it is. But, like everything in fundraising, it takes intention and effort.
You must feed your pipeline in an ongoing way. And that means setting aside time for developing new relationships and pursuing new major donors.
Perhaps you’re already thinking, Who has that kind of time?
It’s a fair question. And I have a two-part system that can help:
Principle #1: Systematize your outreach for prospect discovery and qualification.
Small shop with no time? Simplify. Get ruthlessly simple. Can you find an hour or two every week to focus on new relationships? I’ll bet you can. Now, schedule that time and protect it.
Principle #2: Separate the planning from the doing.
These activities use different parts of your brain. If you write “New Prospect Outreach” on your “to do” list, you’re doomed.
Instead, start by figuring out who you’ll reach out to and when. Do some planning.
And then, during your next discovery and qualification time block, actually do the outreach.
So, how does that play out practically?
Your Outreach Roadmap
I’m going to share my Outreach Roadmap with you. It’s a simple system for staying on track with your new prospect outreach. When I used it as an MGO, I consistently had more donor contacts than my colleagues. And this was at a large institution with hundreds of fundraisers.
And I use it today to keep me on track as I manage a team of 12 and juggle a whole host of other responsibilities.
As you can see, the planning is very clearly separated from the actual outreach. This isn’t rocket science, right?
“Visits?” What does that mean?
Presumably you’re reaching out with the intention of meeting your prospects. The real magic of major gifts cultivation happens face-to-face, even if over Zoom.
One of the great things about this Roadmap is that it’s scalable. Your groups can be as large, or as small as you want. Figure out what makes sense for you.
When I was a full-time MGO, it was just me, myself, and my portfolio. I started with outreach groups in the 12-14 range because I had the bandwidth to do it. If you have a million other responsibilities, your groups might be in the 4-6 range.
The point is: group size and group make-up are up to you. Regardless of how busy you are, I’m confident you can find time to reach out to at least three new prospects a week.
The key will be committing time to both outreach and to planning ahead. Make all the decisions beforehand. That way, when you have a spare 20 minutes to write an outreach email, you already know who to email.
What do you think? Sound reasonable?
Remember, if you don’t put anything into your major gifts pipeline, eventually nothing will come out.
If you want to take a deeper dive into the critical topic of prospect outreach, check out this post.