Gifted and Talented

What Makes a Top Fundraiser in the Age of Venture Philanthropy?

Topics: Advancement, Fundraising, Major Gifts and Campaign Strategy

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Executive Summary

As large-dollar and mega gifts account for an ever-increasing share of the philanthropic landscape in higher education, the major gift officer (MGO) has become even more critical to institutional fundraising success.

Percentage of Private Support Directed to Unrestricted Funds

Given the time and costs involved in hiring and developing MGOs, each position represents a significant investment for the organization. As a result, chief advancement officers are increasingly looking to understand the attitudes and behaviors associated with successful MGOs.

In response to this state of affairs, EAB embarked on an 18-month research initiative to answer one question: "What makes a top fundraiser in the age of venture philanthropy?" Unlike most prior research on human capital in advancement, this study used a balance of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to discover what drives MGO performance and to help our members develop a new human capital strategy. What it revealed—and the associated prescriptions for a new approach to fundraiser selection—holds the potential to enhance your MGO interview process.