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So You Want To Be A Major Gifts Officer

Every nonprofit needs an effective Major Gifts Officer.  That's why you often see openings for this position while browsing job boards.  Do you think you have what it takes to make it in this demanding position?

As the title of the job suggests, a Major Gifts Officer is in charge of securing large gifts from the key donors.  What constitutes a major gift can vary from organization to organization.  For smaller nonprofits, it could be $100.  For larger ones, it could be $100,000 or more.  The major gift officer will have constant contact with major gift prospects, and will generally report to the Chief Development Officer.

So what career skills are required to be a great Major Gifts Officer?  During the Association For Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference in Boston, Mass., Mark Kostegan, senior vice president of development for the Mount Sinai Medical Center, detailed nine skills that a Major Gifts Officer should have:
  • Since you will be working with a number of different donors, often at the same time, it's important to have the ability to build and maintain relationships quickly.
  • You must have excellent listening skills.
  • You must also have strong verbal and communication skills.
  • Can you organize yourself and your time effectively?  If so, you have one of the most important attributes of a Major Gifts Officer.
  • You must never be satisfied with the status quo.  Drive yourself to set and reach challenging goals.
  • Mental and physical stamina to maintain a hectic schedule.  This includes a lot of traveling.
  • A collaborative and collegial work style is a must.
  • Confidence and poise to work effectively with individuals of significant wealth.  Money can be intimidating, so this is a lot harder than it seems.
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