For Impact


We Get What We Measure

Sales (Major Gifts) Process | | Tom Suddes

“We almost always get what we measure.”

This is particularly true in nonprofit organizations, although I believe it is just as prevalent in the for-profit world.

A simple question:
How do we train, measure and reward our Development Staff, be they Income Development, DOD’s, Major Gift Officers, Planned Gift Officers, or whatever the title?

For most organizations, the measurement is activity (busy work). I have actually worked with large and very successful nonprofit organizations whose “measurement,” and I’m talking about actual evaluations, were based upon number of phone calls … number of letters sent out … number of “moves.”

Specific and personal: We just had a great young potential development superstar say, “I can’t find the time to do Major Gifts because I am measured on the number of grant proposals that I submit!”

So, what’s the answer? IF … the goal of the For Impact Development Operation is to write a net, net, net (triple net) check to the organization (to fund the vision)…

THEN … the goal and measurement of the development staff should be tied directly to that net, net, net check! If you’re a volunteer leader or senior staff/administrative leader of a nonprofit organization, you should expect results from your development team. However, you cannot give them the old “pat on the back” and “go get money” Knute Rockne half-time locker room speech!

Your Development Staff should be measured on three things:

  1. Total net dollars raised
  2. Number of quality ASKS
  3. Number of one-on-one visits

We use these GREEN SHEETS to MEASURE sales activity/productivity. Feel free to reproduce/use/expand.

To succinctly summarize and re-emphasize the point: Your development team needs to be working directly and specifically on things that raise the most amount of money at the lowest cost!

That’s how they should be trained. That’s how they should be measured. And that’s how they should be rewarded!

Special Note: Og Mandino has a wonderful message in the Spellbinder’s Gift about busy work. In Step 6 of Patrick Donne’s Send the Instructions for Your New Life, Og through his character states very clearly: Never hide behind busy work.

“It just takes just as much energy to fail as it does to succeed. You must constantly guard against the trap of falling into a routine of remaining busy with unimportant chores that will provide you with an excuse to avoid meaningful challenges or opportunities that could change your life for the better. Your hours are your most precious possession. This day is all you have. Waste not a minute. Never hide behind your busy work!