With the many clients that I have worked with over the years, there is a certain excitement in the air when a major gift is realized from a generous donor. Not only does the gift officer celebrate these accomplishments, but recognition from the entire team becomes a well-deserved and infectious event. I see these significant gifts when I get my weekly NOZA Gift Alerts sent to my email and see the outstanding generosity of these philanthropic individuals.
Just like when I was a kid going on family vacations, I always found that arriving at the destination, such as a national park, lake cabin, or Disney theme park, was the epitome of childhood joy. But what about the journey? I also have fond memories and recall being excited about getting in the car and singing or playing road games with my family, or stopping to eat out at a restaurant, which was really special back in the “old days” when I was a kid, or going to the airport and flying on an airplane – which has since lost its luster for me – or stopping by one of rest areas to get out, stretch, and look at a lovely overlook.
So I now wish to pause and think about the journey many of my clients experience on the way to realizing their major gifts. Isn’t there some level of accomplishment and excitement in the smaller steps taken? Do we not measure some of these steps along the way? Below are some examples of what the journey might include in terms of acknowledging certain achievements that may be worth celebrating:
- Exceeding a certain number of initial prospect calls
- Qualification of a record number of prospects
- Writing and delivering the most proposals, personal notes or letters
- Exceeding the expected number of prospect appointments
- Closing mid-level/transitional gifts, remembering that these gift levels often build the foundation for future potential major gifts
- New development officers closing their first major gifts
- Having a thank you call to a donor end up in receiving a follow-up gift
- Prospect research identifying a new prospect who eventually gives their first major gift
- Prospect research uncovering previously unknown but significant information that helps a development officer make the right ask at the right time
So… Do you or your organization celebrate and acknowledge the aforementioned contributions and accomplishments? As nonprofit professionals and engaged team members, we should always make sure that we celebrate the journey of our day-to-day achievements. Measuring these results will go a long way to encouraging a more proactive approach to fundraising, as well as fostering a positive team-focused approach that eventually will result in helping our organizations reach their goals and further the mission.
*Carol Belair is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at email@example.com.