What Donors Expect from Major Gift Officers

Building relationships is the most important role of a major gift officer.

While expectations vary across organizations, giving levels, and individual donors, universal expectations do exist across the nonprofit sector. Gift officers should focus on building trust, making the ask, and working to further their organization’s mission.

Here are some expectations:

Passion for the Non Profit Mission

If a gift officer is not 100% supportive of the organization’s mission, then a donor will not be 100% supportive.  It is important that the passion for the mission is palpable- you can’t fake this! Once that authenticity is felt, a mutual connection can be made between a gift officer and a donor. Excitement for the cause you are working for is contagious, especially if you have done your research about a donor and know that they also care about your mission. This excitement will also translate into urgency and lead donors to want to act in order to further your organization’s cause.

Major Gift Officer Integrity

Do what you say you are going to do. It’s that simple! Showing up on time, making sure a check is deposited, and following through with stewardship are all simple ways you can build trust with your donors. Building trust with donors is imperative for them to feel comfortable contributing high dollar amounts.

Active listening

Donors want to feel heard- so listen! One mistake a gift officer can make is talking the whole time at a meeting. Like any relationship, it’s important that they also have the opportunity to speak about what they are passionate about. Active listening is a great way to learn more about your donor for future conversations and to just get to know them. Some things you can do to practice active listening include nonverbal communication like leaning in to show interest, staying passive in the conversation when a donor starts to tell you about their lives and interests, and asking clarifying questions to learn more about your donor.

Gift officers should be viewed as consultants and trusted advisors for donors. Showing passion for the mission, having integrity and actively listening will build the strong relationships major donors expect. Want to learn more on the topic of major gifts? Check out Julep.