A Day in the Life of a Major Gifts Officer

One area you asked me to write a little more about is: What is it like to be a fundraising professional?  Many of you already know exactly what it is like in your specific department but maybe you are thinking about going into a different area.  Today I’m going to focus on Major Gifts fundraising.  There is more to it than flashy events, big names, and large gifts.

In the major gifts fundraising I’ve done I have spent my time doing three things: talking about asking for money, looking into asking for money, and asking for money.

Talking about asking for money: depending on where I’ve worked this has taken up the majority of my time in major gifts.  Because major gifts involves working with large amounts of money and often times influential people it can be a very political world.  Especially in the nonprofit world there is a lot of discussion around what the action plan with a specific donor is going to be.  This can be a very good thing as it allows you to gather information and insight from other people and come up with a more informed stronger plan.  But sometimes it means that you never ask for money at all, be careful not to fall into that trap.

Looking into asking for money: if you do major gifts work at a larger organization you will probably have a prospecting staff of your own.  Regardless it’s probably a good idea to do a little of your own research into who you will be talking about and where their money comes from (check out my section on prospect research).

Asking for money: this is a really general term that I am including the entire cultivation process in.  As a major gifts officer you will be writing notes to people, making regular phone calls, taking them on tours and many other kinds of cultivation activities.  Asking people for money is more than running a successful solicitation it is about building a solid relationship and understanding the passions of your donor.

Being a major gifts officer can be a really fun job, you get to meet a lot of really interesting people and hear about big things that are happening in your community.  I have been really touched by the hearts of a number of major donors that I’ve worked with.  These people can enact profound change in their community and often have a heart to make a difference.

I’m sure other many of you are Major Gifts Officers what is your experience like?  What do you do on a daily basis?  Leave a comment with a bit of your story.


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