Today’s question comes from Donna, who writes:
We’re considering hiring a major gift officer. How much should they be expected to raise in the first year? And when can we expect to see a return on our investment?
I’m delighted you’re considering hiring a major gift officer. Hiring major gift officers and raising major gifts at all types of organizations is the goal of the #MajorGiftMovement. Kudos to you for starting the discussion.
How Much Should a Major Gift Officer Raise?
The honest answer is, it depends.
There are lots of factors that go into a successful major gift program. I’ll break them into three main categories:
- Board Members
Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories.
Enthusiastic Prospective Donors
First, you need enthusiastic donors and prospective donors for a successful major gifts program. You can determine this fairly quickly by looking in your database to determine the number of large and loyal donors in your files.
If your organization already has donors who love your organization, raising major gifts is much easier and faster, than if relationships need to be developed.
Don’t expect a new major gift officer to arrive at your organization and perform miracles. If there are no existing relationships, they can’t be created overnight.
Another factor in determining success in raising major gifts depends on your staff.
An experienced major gift officer will likely raise more money than someone who has never asked for a major gift. Also, research tells us that the longer a development staff member has been at your organization, the more gifts they will raise.
In other words, it’s likely that year two will be better than year one, and that year three will be better than year two.
Fundraising is about relationships and major gift fundraising is about trust. It’s harder to trust a new employee than one who has been in the community for many years.
Engaged Board Members
And finally, successful major gift programs have involved, engaged board members.
You are more likely to have a successful major gift programs if you have a culture of philanthropy at your organization. That means that board members:
- Give meaningful gifts
- Help identify and cultivate prospective donors
- And they help solicit and steward donors
Putting it All Together…
Therefore, depending on how you fare in these three areas — donors, staff and board members — provides the basis for answering Donna’s question.
So how much should a major gift officer be expected to raise in the first year?
An experienced major gift officer, with a robust donor list, and an active board should be able to dive right in and raise their salary or more in the first year.
On the other hand, if all three factors aren’t in place yet, then it’s likely to take longer than a year for the major gifts officer to raise their own salary.
What I will tell you is that hiring an experienced major gifts officer is a great investment. Ultimately, they should be able to raise five, ten or even more times their salary.
3 Ways to Move Forward with Raising Major Gifts
As you know, it takes a lot of money to make serious change in the world, and that’s what we’re here to do. Helping organizations like yours raise game-changing gifts is what I’m most passionate about.
In that spirit, here are three things you can do to build your capacity for raising major gifts:
- If you haven’t already done so, start with the Major Gifts Challenge on my website.
- Even better, check out Mastering Major Gifts and see how this step-by-step training course can help you.
- Don’t be left behind — join the #MajorGiftMovement today.
Are you thinking about hiring a major gift officer? What are your biggest concerns? Share them in the comments below.