Major gift officers in academic development generally have three constituencies, each requiring time, focus, and effort: 1) donors and potential donors, 2) academic leaders, 3) volunteers. Each of these constituencies has a natural process for moving from initially disengaged with development activities to becoming fully engaged.

Advancement Resources has developed a proprietary approach to professional relationship building that results in constituents moving from disengaged to fully engaged. This approach is based on an understanding of the psychology of commitment, recognizing that commitment precedes performance.

For each constituency, major gift officers and their managers must balance several competing realities. For example, with donors and potential donors, major gift officers must allocate time according to a grid made up of two axes: commitment (propensity to contribute) and financial capacity. In the Advancement Resources model, both axes have metrics and underlying measurements to guide time management decision-making. In its simplest form, this tool is the Priority Grid; however, this grid is augmented with additional Advancement Resources’ tools such as the Donor Development Chart and the 12 Factors of Financial Capacity.

Similar thinking processes are in play for academic leaders and volunteers. For example, with academic leaders, major gift officers must build strong working relationships and help academic leaders articulate vision and philanthropic priorities to the best potential donors; however, a major gift officer may discover that their assigned dean chooses not to participate fully in development activities. In that case, the major gift officer must make adaptations to cultivation and solicitation of donors and manage time accordingly. Time management is a matter of balancing competing priorities given the realities of each situation.

Time is perhaps the major gift officer’s most valuable asset. With competing demands and constant potential distractions, we believe it is essential that conceptual tools, processes, and metrics exist to guide time prioritization. We invite you to download the Priority Grid, a proprietary Advancement Resources tool, to be helpful in guiding your time prioritization. The Priority Grid can be found in under the “Print Resources” tab in myAR.


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