Recruiting the Right Major Gift Officers

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Member Exclusive

Before you hire your next major gift officer, clarify what the team really needs in the newest MGO, identify the skills you need to ask for, and deepen your candidate pool by searching for non-traditional candidates who have the right combination of skills and personality traits to succeed. Here's how.

by Dr. Joshua Jacobs, Vice President for Advancement, Central Methodist University

The retention and recruitment of major gift officers (MGOs) in higher education is problematic. The average tenure of an MGO, by some estimates, is just above 18 months, levying a high cost on the institution in repeated searches, lost philanthropic momentum, and severed relationships.

Not only is the length of tenure brief, the search costs to replace MGOs are high. Because the central pillar of successful fundraising is the relationship with the donor, and because each representative of the institution must establish credibility and trust with the donor before the best gift can be secured, replacing one MGO with another is not a simple plug-and-play process.

Additionally, the position requires specific talent. It is not possible to place just anyone in the role, due to the high-level of autonomy (substantial self-direction and travel), lack of direct accountability (difficulty assessing performance), and significant burden of institutional representation (a lone individual is representing the President and institution—again, without much oversight).

The competition for talent is fierce. We need to leverage the resources we have in order to secure the right candidate. While not every major gift officer hire will be a smashing success, you can increase your likelihood of employee satisfaction and retention by thinking through a few extra steps in the hiring process:

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Effectively Onboard Major Gift Officers with a 90-Day Plan | Recorded Webcast
Set your new major gifts officers up for success with an effective onboarding plan.

Frontline Fundraising: Essentials of Gift Solicitation | Conference
Send your MGOs and others from your team to this conference to practice and improve their solicitation skills.