Summer Checklist: Rebuild Your Gift Officer One on Ones

With the dog days of summer around the corner, the office is a little quiet and the inbox doesn’t fill up quite as quickly. It’s a great time to step back and tackle some bigger issues that are usually on the back burner.

First up, some tips for everyone out there who managers gift officers.

Basically, by definition, gift officers are constantly managing relationships. That’s kind of the whole gig. They’re always checking in on people, passing along relevant updates or news and generally making sure people are in the loop and feel a connection with your institution. They do a lot of thinking about other people’s needs and desires.

To make sure all is good and balanced in the universe, it’s important that they know someone is regularly thinking about them, too. One of the best ways to do that, is to have productive and meaningful gift officer one on ones.

If you’re not regularly sitting down with each of your gift officers individually, now is a great time to start. And if you’re meetings are starting to feel a little stale, breathe a little life into them with some of these suggestions.

Remember These Meetings Aren’t Supposed to Scale

We live in the age of efficiency. Everyone is trying to make e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g they do more seamless. From meal kits to second screens, we’re always trying to make the most out of each second. And one on ones, well, they’re time consuming. There’s no way around that. 

The best thing you can do is accept that they’re going to take some time. 

Because that personal time is actually what makes them worthwhile, says David Cancel, CEO of Drift . But as the team grows and time becomes more precious, they’re often one of the first things to go.

“And then we lose a lot because we don’t know if someone’s motivated,” Cancel says. “We don’t know if someone’s running into problems, we don’t really know what’s happening with that person on the team. And on the flipside, they don’t have someone invested in their growth, that’s trying to get them to the next level that understands the roadblocks and difficulties they may be having without the one on ones.”

If you don’t make the time for one on ones, everyone loses.

Make It Personal

Seems obvious. And yet…

We get it. Managers have a lot on their plate. Way more than you’d expect. So it’s understandable that a long line of weekly one on ones can all start to run together. If you’ve fallen into that, challenge yourself to reverse the trend.

Every person on your team has different needs. Cater your meetings to those needs. Susan Armacost, Executive Director for University Development at the University of Memphis, has a different approach for every one on one in her calendar.

For her most productive gift officers, she focuses on things two to three months out and keeps the meetings very forward looking. In meetings with employees who are having a more difficult time, she focuses more on immediate tactics that can be put into effect within a week or two.

It’s all about meeting your gift officer where they’re at. Each employee is going to need help in different areas, which will challenge you to tailor your approach to their needs. 

Fix the Mix

Of course, you’ve got to get down to business in these meetings, too. 

A gift officer is only as good as their portfolio. And a portfolio is only as good as its mix. It’s easy for a gift officer to lean heavily on people who are justttttt about ready to give. They provide easy wins and numbers on the board. But that well will eventually run dry if it’s all they pay attention to.

Susan pushes for her team to have a 30/60/10 mix in their portfolio.

  •     30% qualification
  •     60% solicitation
  •     10% stewardship

She’s found that this makes for a well-rounded portfolio with enough prospects in each stage for a healthy, ever-evolving life cycle. That might not be the perfect mix for your team, but think about how to tweak those numbers so that they work for your needs, then review them every time you sit down. If things are running smoothly, it’ll likely be the quickest part of the meeting.

Set the Stage

Once that mix is in order, make sure things are moving along according to schedule. In each of your gift officer one on ones, keep up with groups of prospects to make sure they’re being taken care of and moving along from one stage to the next. 

If someone is in need of a touchpoint, shoot them a note. If they haven’t been visited in far too long, set up a trip. If there’s an outstanding ask on the table, talk through follow up methods.

By setting up some quick filters for each officer’s portfolio, you can quickly run through these segments without having to spend your whole meeting going over a portfolio with a fine-toothed comb. It frees up time so you can address any prospect issues then turn your attention to professional development, roadblocks or other big-picture issues that on the table. 

This isn’t the only thing managers of gift officers can do this summer. Check back on Monday for the next installment of our Summer Checklist.