“Donor visits” have been a cornerstone performance metric for most all gift officer evaluations. But, instead of advancement leaders communicating clearly that donor visits were only a proxy for donor engagement – that the visit only represented potential evidence of donor engagement – the donor visit itself became donor engagement.
Sure, many performance metrics systems for gift officers also included other components – such as the number of solicitations and solicitation success rates – as part of the evaluative calculus. But, far fewer systems included the simple, but powerful “move” metric. Now, during this extended period of travel bans and prohibitions on in-person donor visits, advancement leaders are forced to re-think gift officer evaluation components.
Yes, we can simply expand the definition of a donor visit to include substantive interactions with donors via phone and/or video conferencing. And, given our circumstances we probably should do that. But, expanding the definition of a donor visit does not alleviate the fundamental issue many gift officer performance metric systems have always had: namely, misconstruing the “donor visit” as actual donor engagement.
To solve this problem, simply add the following component to your gift officer performance metric system: the “move” metric. A “move” is defined as working with a donor through each of the phases of the gift giving cycle. We can characterize the gift giving cycle as the simple 4-phase process shown here:
Following the arrows, a “move” occurs when the donor or prospect has entered into the next phase of the gift giving cycle. Pretty simple concept. But speaks far more specifically, directly, and accurately to “donor engagement.”
Whether a move occurs during an in-person visit or through work done via phone or video conferencing becomes immaterial. The gift officer’s goal is to move more donors through the gift giving cycle. Rinse and repeat.
By combining a new and broadly-defined donor visit metric with the move metric, advancement leaders now have a much more coherent and transparent methodology to assess and encourage gift officers to authentically and meaningfully engage donors.
And, this is one change worth keeping even when the pandemic has receded.