Fundraising RX

Prescriptions for fundraising success

This is a new series from AC Fitzgerald, addressing many of the most common issues we see everyday in our fundraising work. We’d love to hear what you think, and if you’re facing these issues, we’d love to help you find your solution!



“I run a small nonprofit and we hired our first major gifts officer (MGO) about three months ago. This is a big expense for us, so I want to make sure this is successful. The problem is I’m not sure if he is spending his time on the right things. He hasn’t really brought in any new gifts. How can I tell he’s doing the right type and amount of work?”


The New MGO….

  • Is always preparing to have a donor call or meeting, but rarely executing.
  • Never leaves the office.
  • Is filling the calendar with non-fundraising activity.
  • Hasn’t asked the CEO to join him at donor meetings.


  • There isn’t a full caseload of donors
  • There are no clear job expectations, with metrics
  • Your fundraising goals are unrealistic
  • He lacks experience to drive the fundraising program
  • The role has been assigned too many other duties
  • He simply needs more time to build relationships


    • Revisit the job description. Does the new MGO have too many “inside” tasks such as writing grants or updating the database? If so, you may be turning an “outside” job into one that tethers the MGO to his desk.
    • Have the right expectations. Major gift cultivation takes time. It often requires a year or more to secure a large gift, assuming the MGO is taking the correct cultivation steps.
    • Recognize the reality of your current situation. Do you have donors ready for major gift cultivation? Or do you expect the MGO to identify and engage new prospects? These realities require different skills and timelines.
    • Know what success looks like. Fundraising activity is highly measurable, but you must know what to measure. For instance, the number of calls and meetings per week, or the amount of requests that are pending with donors are important leading indicators that are often missed.
    • Ask for a weekly report. This report should detail the number of donor meetings and other outreach (emails, calls, etc.), number of new prospects identified or cultivated, and the plan for the coming weeks.
    • Look for energy and momentum. A good MGO should be almost annoying in pushing your organization for new ways to identify, cultivate, and solicit donors. If you find yourself always encouraging the MGO to act, then you may need to make a change.
    • Be supportive and engaged. Fundraising is a team sport, and an MGO needs the CEO’s involvement for the most significant donor relationships. Don’t expect miracles, if you haven’t provided engaged leadership.
    • Seek further training. There is no shortage of fundraising training available. I highly recommend the courses at The Fund Raising School where I serve on the faculty.