Fundraising field experience and a fluency with prospect research tools are all useful attributes of a major gift officer (MGO). But, ultimately collaboration and donor-centric communication skills are most critical to relationship-building — the core of every outstanding major gift program, and your pathway to job opportunities.
First and foremost, as a Major Gifts Officer you need to be someone who clearly understands and advocates for your nonprofit’s fundraising needs. To do the best job, you must really live and breathe your organization’s mission and grasp at a deep level the impact of its work. Then you’ll be able to tell the kinds of stories that captivate donors’ imaginations and inspire them to give, as well as those that show them the impact of their gifts so that their generosity continues.
A good Major Gifts Officer is able to communicate effectively on any platform: online, face-to-face, or in writing. Donors don’t want to be badgered, so building relationships with them and communicating consistently rather than persistently will nurture a relationship naturally without overwhelming prospects. Good fundraisers understand that emotional connections are as important as information in influencing giving decisions. They are intuitive listeners, getting to know their prospects and what they care about. When the time is right, they are not afraid to present donors with giving opportunities that fit their motivations and objectives.
Sharing the spotlight is hard for some leaders, but an effective MGO will be able to lead energetically and collaborate—with the rest of the nonprofit as well as with fundraising consultants. Team-oriented leaders know how to bring together and motivate members of the organization and remain open to refining their own fundraising strategy.
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