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New Study From Ruffalo Noel Levitz Reveals Inefficiencies in Productivity Hinder Fundraising Goals

In an unprecedented study, 55% of major and planned gift officers say they’re not spending enough time talking to top prospects, booking critical big gifts

June 29, 2017— Ruffalo Noel Levitz, leading provider of higher education fundraising and enrollment products and services, released today results from a study of major and planned gift officers. Key findings indicate traditional approaches to fundraising management fail to address the new challenges in higher education and increased demands on advancement professionals to be more productive. As institutions’ fundraising goals increase, major and planned giving is emerging as significantly more important to higher ed success.

The study is informed by a survey and follow-up interviews administered this spring to 270 gift officers exploring factors including portfolio size and annual prospective donor visits, common performance metrics and sentiments around wealth and propensity ratings.

Analysis of survey results revealed five key challenges as reported by major and planned giving professionals:

  • Prospect pools are large and gift officer time is limited
  • Wealth ratings are only moderately helpful
  • Total dollars booked is the top performance metric
  • Limited time to focus quality time on the right prospects is a key barrier to success

"This study—the first to survey such a large number of gift officers—confirms that traditional approaches to major and planned giving are becoming outdated and ineffective," says Brian Gawor, CFRE and vice president for research at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. "Respondents reported they were able to visit with only 56% of their prospect pool per year, indicating that a significant number of assigned prospects are not receiving an in-person contact each year. In major and planned giving, this means many donors ignored and millions in donations lost.”

Challenges, including declining enrollment and retention and rising student financial aid needs, have amplified pressures on institutions to achieve higher fundraising goals. Major and planned gift commitments account for the vast majority of the funds given by donors to higher education.

"We are seeing an increased demand for gift officers to be more productive and secure results in a much more challenging and complex environment,” says Stephen J. Meyer, president and CEO of Ruffalo Noel Levitz. "We see institutions succeed when they apply new technologies and sales automation best practices to increase their productivity. Ruffalo Noel Levitz is using these same data-driven best practices from top researchers, new digital tools, and insights from over a million alumni we’ve connected with to address this need and support institutions in increasing their ROI on fundraising management.”

Informed by this research and their history of talking with tens of thousands of planned giving prospects, Ruffalo Noel Levitz developed a tiered Planned Giving solution set—Pipeline Builder and Coverage—to provide institutions with productivity tools powered by advanced analytics and predictive modeling, integrated multichannel marketing technology and a community of giving professionals. With this innovation in fundraising, advancement staff will have the opportunity to focus their efforts on better qualified prospects and have more informed, relevant conversations around giving passions, creating a better experience for donors and exponentially increasing gift officer productivity.

Major and Planned Giving Productivity Issues Reported by Today’s Gift Officers is available at http://www.ruffalonl.com/MajorPlannedGivingLeaders .  For more information about Ruffalo Noel Levitz, visit https://www.RuffaloNL.com.

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