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Top 5 reasons why it might be time to kill donor visit quotas!

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Quotas… YUCK!
Many major and planned giving professionals are required to secure and carry out a certain number of face-to-face visits each year. This is considered by too many to be an effective measure of their effectiveness in their role. But, unfortunately, quotas lead to inefficiencies that cost the organization inordinate amounts of money.
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should kill visit quotas:
5. More often than not, the quota is arbitrary. Leadership rarely knows how many visits are really necessary. In fact, they rarely know what the role of a gift officer really entails. It’s a wild goose chase that ultimately paints an inaccurate picture of the gift officer’s true activity and performance.
4. According to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, businesses increase sales by an average of 9% after they remove quota systems.
3. They lead many fundraisers to meet with unqualified donors just to hit their quota— ignoring the fact that, for instance, five really great visits with highly-qualified donors will generate more funds than 50 visits with unqualified donors.
2. Many gift officers fudge their numbers and game the system to hit the goal.
1.  Gift officers don’t like quotas!
 
Do you have more reasons why we should kill quotas? If so, please help me add to this list.
 

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9 responses to “Top 5 reasons why it might be time to kill donor visit quotas!”

  1. Joan Blick says:

    It leads to unreasonable expectations of the major gift officer by higher ups.

  2. Jeff Comfort says:

    I respectfully disagree. The issues you cite, imho, are a question of professionalism, not goals. I’ve advanced and closed a LOT more gifts in the donors’ living rooms than in my office, especially big gifts.
    Thanks,
    Jeff Comfort

    • Greg Warner says:

      Thanks Jeff. But I’m confused. We’re talking about quotas, not goals. They are different.
      Also, they vary even further when we look at whether gift officers are involved in developing them or not.
      So, are you saying you disagree with the 5 reasons I put forth for killing visit quotas? Do you disagree that quotas are often arbitrary at many organizations? Do you disagree with Stanford’s findings? Do you feel quotas never lead to unqualified visits? Do you believe that gift officers never fudge their numbers at any organization/institution? Do you feel that gift officers love quotas?
      I’m not sure I understand what you disagree with. Please help us understand.
      I 100% agree that goals help motivate people to get out of their chairs and into people’s homes… and that’s exactly where they should be. But quotas are different than goals, especially if they are arbitrary, unrealistic and absent a focus on quality over quantity.

  3. Jeff Comfort says:

    Greg- I know some gift officers don’t like quotas but most high performers somehow manage to regularly exceed them. I won’t quibble with Stanford’s academics and while I often find “truth” in data please allow me to just fall back on 34 years of experience. Long before our industry started using metrics and quotas I learned that top gift officers who focused on making the most visits usually closed the most gifts. Top gift officers don’t bother trying to game the system and make worthless visits just to make a quota. The latter leads to embarrassing meetings with supervisors (why did you spend your time meeting with XXX?) and less time to devote to making fundraising goals. Instead top performers focus on making productive visits with viable prospects. I can think of a number of times where I’ve heard “I/we don’t have any good prospects” where I have researched for prospects for them and provided a list only to go back a month or so later and found few if any had been followed up on.
    Let’s set semantics aside… quotas or goals. I see them as guideposts and tools for success not sticks to beat fundraisers.

  4. Glen Quiring says:

    I found this curious. What metric might be a better option?

    • Greg Warner says:

      In the end, the idea is quality vs. quantity. Here are just a few metrics to consider along with, most importantly, an eye on quality:
      – Outreach-to-meeting/visit set ratio (how many contacts via email, telephone or other channel does it take to set a meeting): Optimizing this builds efficiency that trickles down making the rest of the funnel much more efficient
      – # of meetings/visits set per week/month/quarter/year
      – # of meetings/visits completed per week/month/quarter/year
      – # of meetings/visits with donors that were rated as highly qualified (as determined after the meeting/visit)
      – Qualification level of each donor (Qualified, somewhat qualified, not qualified, unsure)
      – Where each donor prospect resides in the consideration process (awaiting decision, proposal review requiring more discussion, cultivation/considering a gift, cultivation/might consider a gift, cultivation/might someday consider a gift, donor discovery and qualification)
      – Average days to close a gift
      – # of referrals from major donors to other major donors gained each month/quarter/year
      – Referral-to-meeting/visit rate
      – Referral-to-close rate
      Etc……

  5. Simone Price says:

    I love quotas! But in my experience it is often some donors who aren’t interested in seeing US many times per year. They want responsivness, they want results, but not to carve out time on a more frequent basis than they see some of their own family members! Save our retired stakeholders, many of our donors are as busy as we are, maybe more so.

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