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  • Writer's picturelauramccartytufano

Building Skills, Building Confidence

A former colleague reached out a couple of years ago to ask for major gift coaching. She explained that she’d been reflecting on how much she had learned when we had been co-workers, and wanted some help taking her current work to the next level.

“I felt like I really developed my skills when you were working with me intensively, like with measuring success and working with donors. Would you be my fundraising coach? I’m envisioning bi-weekly meetings where we talk about donors and do some data crunching.”

While she had done relationship management work in the past, she had always had a small portfolio and many competing priorities. Now in her first Major Gift Officer role, she wanted help prioritizing, analyzing, and measuring her work.

When she started the new job, she was given a portfolio of about 150 major donors. Most were leadership-level annual fund donors. Her challenges were many:

  • How to grow the major donor pool when her portfolio was already quite large

  • How to prioritize donors within this large portfolio

  • How to prospect from a national donor base as the sole major gift officer

For the next nine months, I helped this former colleague-turned-client create very detailed, actionable plans to help her identify her top new prospects and retain and upgrade her existing major donors. I created a 52-week plan for qualification and discovery to keep her focus on the organization’s top goal: bringing in new major donors. I also coached her through the types of messages to send and conversations to have with prospective and current donors.

By the time our coaching contract was completed, I was most impressed with the client’s transformation in confidence. When I asked her what she’d say to others considering coaching, her response was this:

“The thing that’s so magical about Laura is that she helps you realize that you are smarter and better equipped than you might realize, and that you are capable of solving big problems.”

Capable indeed. Fast forward a couple years, and this former coaching client has recently closed the largest gift in her organization’s history, a transformational seven-figure cash gift!

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