Utilizing Your Gift Officers To Their Highest Capacity

In conversation with development professionals and from the many development assessments my colleagues and I at Alexander Haas have done, I am constantly reminded that no office has sufficient field officers to secure major, planned and leadership annual gifts. 

It’s just a fact of life. 

That only serves to amplify our need to make sure that the field officers we have are utilized to their highest and best capacity. 

This entails, to my way of thinking, two basic tasks:

  1. Ensuring that the portfolios/prospects that the development officers are working with is the best that it can be.
  2. Equipping the development officers to secure all kinds of gifts. 

While that sounds like a simple thing, both can move our gift officers out of their comfort zone. 

For the former, regular rigorous review of both the portfolios of the gift officers, as well as the overall prospect pool. Are prospects being moved through the process at an appropriate pace? Are the most promising prospects being worked into the portfolio or assigned for qualification? Are those promising prospects that may live in areas where development officers may not travel being strategically assigned? 

When we ask those questions, we may realize that some prospects will have to be dropped or more qualification calls will need to be made. 

For the latter, without turning staff whose primary focus is to secure major gifts  into an annual or planned giving officer, it is possible through appropriate training as well as articulation of expectations to maximize the productivity of gift officers across the spectrum of gifts. That will require different behavior and mind-set for our gift officers, something that can be uncomfortable. 

We could all wish for more staff and more resources—but until that halcyon day arrives, our task is to make the best use of what we have.