Fundraisers barely lasting a year

The average tenure of a major gifts officer in the philanthropic sector is 16 months, according to the Philanthropy Leadership Council. With the expense in time, money and missed opportunity associated with turnover, organizations have a number of reasons for wanting to keep quality officers onboard.

During their workshop “Onboarding a Major Gifts Officer” at the 2015 Association for Healthcare Philanthropy Conference, Thomas Harmon, director of leadership giving, and Melissa Molieri, major gifts officer, of Temple University’ Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa., provided four objectives for making sure officers stay on.

Avoid buyer’s remorse. Incorporate physicians, scientists, senior leadership, fellow major gifts officers and a facilities tour into the hiring process.

Begin a charm offensive immediately. Create a sense that people are happy that the officer is onboard. Consider sending out an email announcement, asking colleagues to send welcome notes, decorating the office and hosting a welcome breakfast for new officers. Make sure that they have a clean workspace, office supplies, working computer and relevant reading material to review.

Let them know what is expected of them. Induct them into the office culture and articulate what success looks like for the organization. Identify and address program needs and capitalize on their fresh perspective.

Give opportunities to make progress. Pack their first 90 days with training, standing meetings, introductory meetings and shadowing opportunities. Identify areas for additional training and review what they have learned. Also provide chances for the new officer to get to know his or her new colleagues.