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Major Gifts Officer

Secure contributions to an organization by networking with donors.

What does a Major Gifts Officer do?

Just to be clear, when we talk about major gifts, we don’t mean big boxes shoved under trees. Major gifts in this sense refer to money. And your job as a Major Gifts Officer is to obtain money by convincing donors to give to your organization. You can work with all types of organizations as a Major Gifts Officer, from schools and universities to nonprofits to research facilities.

So how do you convince people to give? A Major Gifts Officer is a mix between an Event Planner and a traveling Salesperson. First, you research possible donors by finding out who has given before, who’s interested in the cause, and who has the means to make a major gift (which is, to most organizations, any amount over $50,000).

So you might contact all the alumni of a school who graduated between 15 and 20 years prior. The idea is to talk to people who have a strong connection to your organization and have the money to give (which means you leave out fresh graduates who still live with their parents).

Once you have potential donors, you woo them and pique their interest. This is where the traveling and event planning parts come in. You spend a lot of time on the road meeting with the donors, giving presentations about your organization’s goals, throwing parties to bring people together, and, in general, serving as the face of your organization.

Because of these responsibilities, the job requires that you really like people and have great communication skills. You need to be able to schmooze at parties and make donors feel welcome without being cheesy or pushy.