Advancement leaders rely on their major gift officers (MGOs) to meet today’s campaign goals while developing relationships with donors that will last into the future. Yet MGOs cannot reach their maximum productivity without targeted professional development.
Professional development within advancement shops needs to become a strategic imperative to enable institutions to meet increasingly-high fundraising goals. Targeted professional development supports employee skill development, helping staff build deeper relationships with donors and raise more money over time. In short, strengthening professional development is a win-win-win for advancement leaders.
Despite its importance, professional development often falls by the wayside when there are donors to cultivate, gifts to close, and annual goals to reach. On average, organizations invest far more in hiring expenses than in ongoing professional development, which makes it difficult to help employees reach their full potential.
Critical resources at your fingertips
In order to ensure that MGOs meet their potential from day one, the Advancement Forum has developed a complete suite of research and ready-to-implement tools mapped to each pillar of strategic talent management. Use these resources to strengthen your current professional development offerings or launch a new strategic talent management program.
While many of the resources listed here are intended for use by any individuals who manage MGOs, they can be adapted for other positions within advancement by updating the skills and timelines listed on each tool or resource.
1. Recruit the best candidates
Before professional development can be implemented, advancement teams need to attract top talent. Yet competition is at an all-time high for the best candidates. Best practice institutions attract talented candidates through proactive candidate recruitment, systematic vacancy planning, and accelerated onboarding processes.
- Use Competing for Talent to gain an advantage in the bidding war for talent by improving recruitment planning and processes for both traditional and non-traditional candidates.
- Refer to Gifted and Talented to recalibrate hiring evaluations and identify the best candidates among prospective MGOs.
- Customize onboarding to ensure that new hires reach full productivity within their first 180 days with the Tailored Onboarding Toolkit.
2. Deploy high-impact skill-building
79% of MGOs rate professional development as important or very important in deciding to join an institution. However, most formalized professional development stops at the end of onboarding. To retain staff for the long-term, identify opportunities for staff to strengthen their skills and gain new capacities.
- The Professional Development Playbook features best practices for identifying skill gaps and integrating learning into staff workflows.
- Help MGOs see their own strengths and areas for improvement with the Simulation-Based Coaching Toolkit and Diverse MGO Training Scenarios.
- Increase the reach of experienced MGOs while allowing newer staff to build skills through Real-Time Strategy Coaching.
3. Manage long-term performance
To meet long-term goals, ensure that all staff are achieving their potential through formalized metrics. Additionally, ensure that managers understand their role in employee retention and development and have the skills to hold key conversations with their direct reports.
- Use Making Meaning of Metrics to analyze MGO performance, set expectations, and instill accountability with data-driven performance metrics.
- Prepare managers to play a proactive role in professional development strategy with the Talent Review Leader Training Logistics Guide.
Ensure long-term success
Share these resources with anyone on your team responsible for recruitment, retention, or onboarding efforts in order to ensure a coordinated effort across-the-board. Don’t forget to ask MGOs which skills they would like to build so that professional development investments meet their needs and expectations.
Over time, revisit the tools you use most often to determine what works well and areas that could be further strengthened to meet fundraising and staff retention goals.