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How Can Major Gifts and Planned Gifts Officers Work Together?





There are big shifts occurring on nearly every nonprofit fundraising team. Do you see them? In this era of blended gifts, major gifts officers are asking donors to make bequests or other planned gifts in addition to big immediate gifts for special projects and campaigns. Planned gifts fundraisers are increasingly asking for outright or current gifts alongside traditional planned gifts. With shifts in fundraising roles, come questions of how major gifts and planned gifts officers can better communicate, educate one another and collaborate to achieve good gifts for their organizations.

At a recent meeting of the National Capital Planned Giving Council (NCPGC), fundraisers at national charities talked about how major gifts and planned gifts officers

can work together to achieve positive outcomes. Here are some of the themes and recommendations that are worth thinking about if you work at a charity grappling with how to navigate the changes in fundraising roles.

  1. Communication and trust are key. Communication and trust are important ingredients of major gifts and planned gifts fundraisers working well together. When fundraisers communicate well and trust one another they are more willing to share data, leads and credit. Recommendation: Schedule time at least monthly for a discussion with all members of your fundraising team about prospect leads and opportunities to bring donors up the pipeline.

  2. Training and education are important. If you have a planned giving officer on staff, ask that person to train your major gifts officers on planned giving basics and how to confidently talk with donors about blended gifts. Recommendation: If you don't have someone qualified to train your team on planned gifts, bring in an outside expert or consultant.

  3. Take a team approach. Joint leadership, meetings, and goals are some of the ways charities can make major gifts and planned gifts officers feel like they are part of a team rather than fundraisers with different job functions. The team approach helps promote collaboration in fundraising. Recommendation: Consider having major gifts and planned gifts fundraisers report to the same supervisor.

  4. Act as partners. The planned giving office can act as a partner with major gift officers and develop relationships with them individually. Recommendation: Meet one-on-one with your counterparts to share knowledge. Meet colleagues where they are at (based on their knowledge) and talk through gift scenarios as they arise.

  5. Share credit. Charities that give shared credit to fundraisers that work collaboratively on gifts see major gifts and planned gifts officers working well together. Recommendation: Give credit to planned giving officers for outright gifts. This policy helps major gifts officers see that fundraisers on the planned giving team support major gifts.

  6. Set department goals. One idea to make planned gifts and major gifts teams work well together is to set a fundraising goal for the entire philanthropy team. A department or organizational fundraising goal promotes collaboration in securing gifts. (Fundraisers must still meet individual goals).

  7. Find a mentor. Major gifts officers should think of planned giving as a valuable tool in their arsenal and not get caught up with the technicalities. Recommendation: Develop a strong working relationship with a colleague or mentor who specializes in planned gifts that you can talk with if a challenging gift scenario presents itself.

You Can Work Together and Make a Difference!


As you think about how to work together with the fundraisers with different roles at your charity, look for opportunities where you can provide training or education to others in your area of strength. Building trust with your team members is the key to better relationships.



Recommendation: Make sure as a major gifts officer that you add planned giving to your donor proposals. Set your organization up for an easy win with an ask for an additional gift that will continue your top supporters' pattern of giving into the future. Blended gifts are a win for your donors and your organization!

What do you think? How are you working these issues out at your organization? What ideas have you tried and what has worked well for promoting better communication and strong working relationships between major gifts and planned gifts officers? ... Copyright Notice & Disclaimer The above content is subject to copyright. © Copyright Kristen Jaarda 2020. All rights Reserved. The above information is provided for educational purposes only, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this information, you understand and agree that there is no attorney-client relationship between yourself and the copyright holder named above and that this information is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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