How To Move From Annual Burn-Out To Major Gifts Officer In 5 Easy Steps

Avoid the burning sensation
(image by shoothead)

Is this you? You have been fundraising for a while and are dying to get into major gifts. The problem is that your superiors won’t take a chance on setting you loose on their key prospects. This can only end in tears and the typical fundraiser job-hop. But does it always have to be this way? No my friend. Read on for a tested-on-humans, 5-step escape route from the daily grind of the annual campaign.

1. Be a joiner. Is there a prospect clearance committee at your shop? Get on it. If you’re in a large shop that doesn’t have one, suggest it yourself! Lord knows they probably need it and are stepping all over each other’s  toes at this point. There’s nothing to lose with this approach. You’ll be like that kid in the taco ad who suggests a flat-bottomed shell.

2. Keep joining. Is there an auction team for your gala? Galas are breeding grounds for major gift prospects. Is your organization doing a capital campaign? Volunteer to run the staff or “family” component, or help out at the cultivation events, or do some of the prospect research.

3. And speaking of research, do you have a research database like PRO or Big Online? Start practicing on your own portfolio of donors. Whether you’re working on the run/walk event, doing direct mail, or assisting the planned giving staff, have a look at your donors and do some research and segmenting. If you find any potential prospects, either suggest them to your major gifts team (they will love you!) or start building stronger relationships with them yourself.

4. Ask to be a fly on the wall. It’s difficult to bring extra people to a major gifts ask, but if there’s a secretarial role you could play by tagging along with one of the major gifts staff, it will give you valuable experience in seeing how an ask really plays out. Let your fundraising team know you want this exposure and keep your ears open.

5. Pull the “Superman Move”. This means moving away from planet Krypton, where your super-powers are only average, to planet Earth, where people will think you’re amazing! In Real Life, this means joining the board of a smaller charity and helping them with their fundraising. Most boards are terrified of the topic and will scoop you up like a tub of Cherry Garcia. Just make sure the board you’re on has a different donor base than your day job so you don’t get embroiled in any sexy conflict-of-interest moments.

For serious. This will work.

– Siobhan


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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