What is a Digital Gift Officer?
And Do You Need One?

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Have you encountered this problem? Though you do have small number of major donors with whom you are deeply engaged, most of your other donors give at much lower levels, and aren’t particularly connected with your organization. You probably acquired them through direct mail or digital sources. You may have limited contact information, a low retention rate, or challenges engaging them more deeply with your work…

If so, you are certainly not alone in the nonprofit world! But this problem is costing your organization a great deal of money. Typically, an initial gift is the most expensive gift to get, so not being able to engage donors further is a costly problem. Let’s say that in 2019, you had 500 donors give $250 each, but never make a second gift. By 2023, you would have lost out on $500,000 in revenue, not to mention additional revenue from upgraded gifts.

Enter the Digital Gift Officer (DGO). Increasingly, universities and nonprofits are adding this new position in their development offices to reach, engage, and retain more mid-level donors in an increasingly digital world.

What do DGOs do?

  • They have a digital-first mentality of donor engagement and use email, social media, video, and text to engage and solicit donors.
  • They manage several hundred donors – a much larger portfolio than a typical major gifts officer. They also generate dozens of new prospect “visits” via videoconference each month.
  • They develop digital engagement plans and use technology to deliver quick content on the correct channels. A CRM like EverTrue is one tool that helps track a donors’ digital footprint.
  • They continually monitor a donor’s digital body language and engage in real time when the donor:
    • Opens or clicks emails
    • Mentions your nonprofit on social media
    • Visits your website
    • Attends webinars

Some DGOs will meet with donors in-person, but most of the engagement is handled through digital channels. The DGO’s goals are to retain and upgrade donors, while also identifying those who could make a major gift.

At a time when giving is down and nonprofits face tough economic challenges, fundraisers need to retain as many donors as possible. A Digital Gift Officer may be an important position to add to build your mid-level donor portfolio.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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