My First Three Months as a Gift Officer

We think EverTrue makes it easier to find prospects, book meetings, fill an empty portfolio, and travel light.

But you don’t have to just take our word for it.

We chatted with John Blackburn, Jr., Assistant Director of Development at the University of Virginia’s College of Arts and Sciences. John is brand new to development, having joined the UVA team in January.

(Everyone say, “Hi John!”)

We asked John how things are going three months into the job and if EverTrue has helped him get up to speed faster.

Here’s what he had to say.

Traveling Light

“Before one of my first trips, an administrative assistant handed me a huge pile of paper. Known around the office as ‘road warriors,’ they’re printouts of virtually everything that’s in Advance, our database. I thought, ‘This is crazy. I’m going to have to get another suitcase.’”

Luckily for John (though less so for Samsonite), he started using EverTrue to plan trips, organize his portfolio and work from the road.

“It’s so nice to be able to look at my phone and it tells me where to go,” said John. “With one tap, I can open up Apple Maps and have Siri direct me. I get to my meeting 10 minutes early. Then I review the constituent information on EverTrue to refresh my memory and it’s off to the races.”

Filling a Brand New Portfolio

As a new development officer, John has spent his time building a portfolio mostly from scratch. With a potential campaign forming in the not-too-distant future, John and the team are trying to develop relationships with as many new prospects as possible.

When planning a recent trip to Birmingham, Alabama, John started with known prospects, but soon shifted to use EverTrue to find the emerging next generation of donors.

“Let’s look at people who are in the 35-50 age range who are making partner in their law firms or had recent liquidity events and could be leadership donors now and maybe major gift prospects in the next campaign,” John said.

Try this search. If you’re an EverTrue user, click this link to see all alumni in the classes of 1988-2004 who are in the law industry in the Birmingham area. Move the map to a new location or add other filters to find new prospects.


“The best meeting I had all week was with a couple from Birmingham who made a $100 gift right after I started. I saw the gift notification in EverTrue, and wrote the alumna a quick email to say thank you. She was completely off our radar—never been visited, never solicited. I told her I’d be in her area in March and I’d like to meet her. She was happy to set that up.”

“In the interim, she and her husband gave two more gifts. When I met them, it was apparent they had significantly more potential, but didn’t know how to help. They are now going to be among my leadership prospects.”

“There’s no way I would have found them without EverTrue. There’s no report from our database with giving in my assigned areas or ZIP code. I’d have to go looking for it and, even then, might not find it. Those small gifts are gold, though. That’s someone reaching out and saying, ‘I’m ready to be contacted.’”


John relies on the map view in EverTrue when he’s looking for new prospects. For him, seeing constituents laid out by neighborhood is helpful, especially when he layers in prospect ratings or giving information.

“I’m very visual. I like looking at the map view and sorting by rating and past giving—anything I can do that helps me think about this information in different ways,” said John. “One of the super-helpful features in EverTrue that you don’t get in Advance is a direct link to LinkedIn and the real estate values. That’s incredibly telling.”

Try John’s favorite search. Open up the map in EverTrue and build a search using the donor status filters, rating info, or the EverTrue score to start surfacing potential prospects. Get more granular in your search by adding in home value information.

Draw-to-Search in EverTrue
Draw-to-Search in EverTrue


33% More Effective, Thanks to Drag-and-Drop Trip Planning

It’s often overwhelming for new gift officers to plan and execute trips. Without Evertrue, donor information, travel plans, and appointments all live in different applications. Gift officers can spend days putting together itineraries, plans that can then be thrown into disarray by a cancellation or bad weather.

“Last Monday, we had a snowstorm here and I was stuck in the airport all day,” John said. “I spent the day rescheduling meetings. But since my trip was in EverTrue, I could just drag meetings to another day. It’s incredibly helpful to see my week laid out with travel time and distance in between each meeting.”

“If I didn’t have that information, I would have been late to half those meetings or I would have decided to take three meetings a day instead of four or five. I’m easily 33 percent more productive because of EverTrue.

Drag-and-drop trip planning
Drag-and-drop trip planning for gift officers

In Conclusion

“EverTrue has made organizing and executing a complex fundraising trip much easier,” said John. “I can’t imagine doing this work without an iPhone and EverTrue.”

John is moving fast and filling his portfolio. He’s saving time when traveling and making sure that every minute on the road is spent either with a prospect or getting to his next meeting. As he uncovers new potential leadership donors, he’s building pipeline that goes beyond the next campaign—he’s working to secure gifts that will change the lives of students at Virginia.

And isn’t that what being a gift officer is all about?


New to EverTrue? Check out our Relationship Management playbook, which can help you and your team get started planning trips, managing portfolios, and tracking success.

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