Major gifts officer interview questions & answers.

We had really wanted to like her. She came from the searchfirm and looked great on paper. But it truly was bad.

And our frustration was mounting. At that point, a critical major gift officer position had been vacant for approximately six months and there were no promising future prospects.

The story ends well, thankfully. However, it took 10 months in total to find the right person.

As I’m writing this, the U. S. economy has been quite strong,and for a long time. It’s a great time for fundraising. But it’s a hard timefor hiring. All the best talent has already made a move. Maybe two!.

I’ve filled four positions in the past year, so I’m naturally thinking about hiring and, in particular, interviewing.

I’m going to generalize. I am aware that not everyone who reads this will interview with me or for a position as a major gift officer. However, I want to offer a few brief advice that can significantly improve your interviewing abilities.

At Fearless Fundraising, we frequently start with psychology to discuss the inner workings of interviews. I want us to understand the interviewer’s perspective. Why? Because it will put your prep work into context.

And she needs to solve it. Her open position means there’sunrealized fundraising potential at her organization. Additionally, they are leaving money on the table every day—perhaps not right away, but undoubtedly in the future.

Finding the ideal candidate for the position is your interviewer’s job so that her organization can utilize as much of that untapped potential as possible. And, she’d like to do this ASAP.

Be sure to approach the interview as though you were trying to assist the interviewer in solving a problem. Treat it like a mini consultingassignment. Your interviewer is your client. Try to comprehend the opportunities and challenges her organization is facing, then assist her in identifying solutions.

This reframe will help you escape some harmful mindset “traps” that are simple to fall into, including: 1) putting too much emphasis on yourself, 2) worrying about other people’s opinions of you, and 3) simply answering and reacting to questions. You’ll become much more proactive, inquisitive, and thoughtful, all of which are crucial for both fundraising and interviewing.

Understanding the inner workings of the interview process will help you properly prepare. Now that you’re getting ready to collaborate with your interviewer to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities she might be experiencing, your focus isn’t on “having the right answers.”

A solicitation meeting is similar to an interview in that 80% of the work is done before you enter the room.

There are many things you could (and probably should) prepare for, and we’ll cover a lot of ground in this discussion. However, I’m going to start with a suggestion that will immediately place you in the top 25% of all applicants. Ready for it?.

I’m not kidding. Speaking clearly and concisely will help you stand out from other job candidates during interviews.

Most people get nervous during interviews—it’s completelyunderstandable. So what do we do when we’re anxious? We converse. And talk. Andtalk.

You can replace rambling with self-awareness and conversational fluency with some planning (and practice, as we’ll discuss later). Dothis and you’ll rise to the top.

Therefore, the first step in ensuring success during an interview is to foresee some of the questions that will be asked.

The questions you’ll get in the non-profit world are largelypredictable. The strange interview question trend that you see in the technology industry (Intel: “Design a spice rack for the blind”) hasn’t quite caught on with us. How much would it cost to wash every window in Seattle, as posted on Facebook?

Typically, you won’t see this kind of stuff. If you havethough, I want to hear about it. Leave a comment below.

The questions you’ll get in fundraising are morestraightforward. Here is a list of the fundamental questions you should be ready to respond to:

Again, don’t memorize your answers to these questions. But make sure you have a position and can articulate it clearly without droning on.

This is a question I always ask during interviews to better understand a candidate’s thought process. Does she take into account her audience (me) and his needs when choosing what information to highlight and how to synthesize it?

Do not talk for more than 3-4 minutes. And prepare to coverthe following in that time:

But you did the interviewer’s job for him, look at all the ground you covered. Remember, he’s trying to solve a problem. And you justanswered all of his fundamental questions:

And you did it on your terms. Yes, there will be follow-up questions in your interview, and you might want to delve deeper into some topics. However, you must establish the narrative from the beginning.

This approach is powerful. If you are prepared to respond in this manner, you will ace the “tell me about yourself” invitation. And even if you aren’t asked that, you’ll be ready to respond to the questions that your interviewer is most interested in.

I can’t tell you how many times candidates have responded, “Uh, no, I think you already covered everything I wanted to know,” when I have asked if they have any questions. ”.

You’re thinking about switching jobs, taking on new obligations, reporting to a new boss, and spending 40+ hours a week somewhere else with new people—more time than you’ll spend with your family—and you don’t have any questions?

Nobody wants to hire a candidate who isn’t trying to determine fit on their end in a sincere manner. Be intenselycurious about the opportunity. Additionally, try your hardest to imagine yourself working there during the interview process. Itsignals that you’re not just looking for a paycheck.

Next, not all fundraising jobs are the same. Make sure you ascertain what they are seeking and relate your experience and qualifications accordingly.

While job descriptions are helpful, be alert for any unstated expectations. And here’s a little secret: not every company does a great job of updating job descriptions. It’s possible that the provided information falls short of the hiring manager’s expectations. Ideally, this is not the case, but you must determine this. Ask:

Additionally, on a more general level, be sure you are aware of the type of fundraising job this is and whether you truly want to pursue it.

For instance, be able to differentiate between fundraising positions based on relationships and those that are program-based. I can’t tell you how many major gift officer job candidates I’ve interviewed who spent the entire time discussing events and programs. Orvice versa!.

Be prepared to discuss the high-value relationships you’ve developed if the position is one that relies on relationships, such as a major gift officer role. Also, think of a few ideas for how you might develop them in your new position.

Likewise, if the position involves developing programs (e.g., events, clubs, reunions, most annual giving jobs), be prepared to discuss the programs you’ve created.

The same goes for generalist vs. specialist jobs. Greater shops will employ more specialized positions that are devoted to a single subject. More generalist jobs—positions with a wider range of responsibilities—will be found in smaller shops. Make sure you understand the position you’re applying for as you get ready for your interview. Plan to bring in a few writing samples for grant writing or annual giving positions. Be prepared to participate in a role play if the position is a major gift officer.

First, keep in mind what your interviewer is looking for. Roleplays are a great way to assess the following:

You can (and should) prepare for a role play as part of your interview preparation if you’re applying for a position as a major gift officer. Thescenarios you’ll get won’t be that unusual. Be prepared to use it in a role-playing exercise by outlining a general case for support for the organization you are interviewing with. Additionally, you should be prepared with a standard “transition and ask.” Additionally, if you want to go above and beyond, be prepared to deal with “skeptical prospect” and “disappointed donor” scenarios.

Determine a few strengths that you would bring to the position as part of your interview preparation. This is an important part of your interview game plan. Keep in mind that you should actively highlight your strengths and relate them to the interviewer’s needs rather than merely responding to questions. In the event that you are asked, “Tell me about yourself,” you will probably mention this. But be prepared to bring up your advantages again and again during the exchange.

Determine your 2-3 “most relevant strengths” by researching the company and the position. ” The word “relevant” here is key. Yes, these are your strengths, but you should concentrate on the ones that are most critical to the job you’re applying for. It’s crucial to emphasize the intersection of your strengths and their needs because doing so could make or break your candidacy.

Consider that you are applying for a position as a dedicated major gift officer with a bigger organization. You have some experience with major gifts, but you were a generalist in a smaller shop, and handling major gifts was just one of dozens of duties you were responsible for.

You don’t have to emphasize how adept you are at creating appeal letters and mailing list segments. You don’t have to emphasize the noteworthy events you’ve organized in the past. Instead, focus on the relationships you’vebuilt. And the gifts you’ve inspired as a result.

And be prepared to discuss how you could see yourself doing more of that kind of work if you had more time to do it and fewer other obligations. What would your plan and your process be?.

Relevance. Itsounds obvious. But I’m surprised by how many applicants I spoke with weren’t ready to establish these connections.

The other side of this equation, however, is equally crucial. You must comprehend the position for which you are applying in order to know which aspects of your experience to emphasize.

Typically, this is not intended to be a “gotcha!” question. I use it to gauge the degree of self-awareness of candidates. Everybody hasreal weaknesses. Everybody. Does that mean she’ll be sincere or will she just tell me she works too hard? (Many candidates say that.)

When sharing a weakness, you want to do two things in addition to displaying self-awareness: 1) position it in relation to your strengths, and 2) discuss how you’re working to get over that weakness and lessen its effects.

My weakness is administrative detail, but everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I’m good at hitting fundraisinggoals. However, I don’t always submit my expense reports on time. Usually, I have to get a reminder from the HR Office to finish my training And, as much as I hate to admit it, I have frequently forgotten to approve an employee’s timesheet.

I’m in process on this. I still remember the words of a former boss: “I appreciate that you’re focused on your goals.” However, if you don’t finish your administrative work on time, it leaves a lot of extra work for others. Is that the type of colleague you want to be?’”.

Make sure you are familiar with the names of the individuals you will be interviewing. It’s okay to ask this ahead of time. MEMORIZEthese names. At the conclusion of an interview, shaking hands and thanking each person by name creates a favorable impression.

So, we’ve covered preparation. You know what you’re going tosay. Now let’s talk about practice—it’s just as important.

Why? Well, as we’ve mentioned before, most candidatesramble. Being ready to provide concise, clear answers to questions will help you stand out right away.

You can identify the points you want to emphasize during the interview with the aid of preparation. You’ll get more comfortable making them and closing your mouth after some practice.

Not a plastic, forced smile. Try smiling a little more withyour eyes. It will make you more likable and engaging.

Although you could record yourself, getting immediate feedback in the mirror is preferable. Furthermore, the discomfort is more similar to what you’ll feel in an interview situation.

It’s as simple as that. You’ve already identified a list ofquestions to be prepared for. Practice answering them in the mirror.

I guarantee that if you do this, you will learn something about yourself, increase your level of self-awareness, and improve your interviewing skills.

Let’s talk about the interview itself. We won’t go overboard because, as you may recall, 80% of the work is completed before you enter the room.

Please, please, please do not show up 20 minutes early. Nobody will be ready for you. You’ll simply waste the receptionist’s time by waiting in a lobby. And you already get brownie points for arriving five minutes early, so there’s no point in doing it.

Now, in order to arrive at the correct office five minutes early, you must plan to arrive and find parking at least 10-15 minutes in advance, if not more. There’s nothing wrong with sitting in your car.

The best strategy is to include a large amount of buffer time. Usually, I try to get to a nearby coffee shop an hour before my interview begins. It’s like a personal staging area where I can relax, use the restroom, check myself in the mirror, review some notes, hydrate, caffeinate, or do whatever I want.

I then arrive at the company in plenty of time to find parking and arrive at the appropriate office five minutes early.

Again, 80% of the work is done. Finding the right opportunities to highlight your two or three “most relevant strengths” is all that’s required. ”.

And breathe. Short gaps or pauses in the conversation areOK. You won’t accomplish anything by making noise in the void; instead, you’ll just babble.

It’s okay if you encounter one or two questions for which you weren’t prepared. Stick to the headlines, slow down, breathe, smile, and answer the question as best you can. If your interviewer wants the details, she’ll ask.

Ask your interviewer about their decision-making process if they don’t already before the interview is over.

When saying farewells, thank people by name—it makes an impression. Once more, remember to memorize the names of everyone you’ll encounter while preparing.

After the interview, send “thank you” notes. Email is fine. Go for it if you have a gut feeling that a particular interviewer would be moved by a handwritten note. Email, however, is more immediate. Additionally, you can add brief clarifications or points of emphasis that would be awkward in a handwritten note.

It’s acceptable to contact you after an interview to inquire about the status of your application. Just keep in mind what was said to you during the interview about the decision timeline. Obviously, if they say they’ll decide in two weeks, you don’t want to check back in after two days.

So, that’s that. Please leave a comment to let me know if I’ve missed anything important. I’d also love to hear any advice you might have about how to conduct an interview.

Interview Questions for Major Gifts Officers:
  • How would you go about discovering new potential donors? …
  • Can you describe a time when you changed someone’s mind about donating? …
  • How would you maintain and build relationships with donors? …
  • What experience do you have working with organizations’ finances?

Major Gifts Officer Interview Questions

If I were working on a major gift campaign and donations suddenly began to drop, I would first try to determine why this was happening. Perhaps the cause had received some negative press, or perhaps it was just that everyone had given as much as they could. If I couldn’t find a solution, I would start spreading the word about the issue once more via various platforms. I would also make contact with leaders who could promote the cause. ”.

Example: “When approaching a new donor, I think it’s important to be sincere,” I make an effort to let them know that I’m not just trying to sell them something, but that I actually care deeply about their cause. I had a great experience using this tactic in my previous position. A potential donor was reluctant to give us money when we first met because she felt we weren’t well-organized enough. She chose to donate $10,000 after we explained our mission and demonstrated some of our success stories. ”.

Example: “I believe it’s critical to establish a rapport with my donors before requesting a sizable gift.” I typically begin by sending emails or newsletters every month about the development of our organization and upcoming events. I then invite them to a gathering so they can get to know other organization supporters. I arrange a phone call with them after this initial contact to get to know them better and find out more about what they want to accomplish with their philanthropy. I conclude by requesting a larger donation to help us reach our objectives. ”.

The number of recurring donations that major gifts officers receive frequently needs to be increased You can demonstrate your capacity to devise plans of action to help achieve this objective by responding to this question. Explain in your response how you would put a strategy to increase the number of donors who give on a regular basis into action.

This query can enable the interviewer to gauge your response to a difficult circumstance. Additionally, it aids them in determining whether your strategy is comparable to their own and whether it adheres to the values of the company. Try to describe in your response how you would ensure that the donor continues to donate while also respecting the donor’s wishes.

Finally, a gift officer’s relationship with their immediate supervisor and coworkers is among their most private ones. Whatever the answers, it is very likely that donors will feel the same way about the candidate. Interviewers should ask themselves, “Is this candidate someone that excites, stimulates, and even challenges me? Would I feel comfortable talking with them about personal, confidential matters?”

Second, the interviewers should concur on what must be learned in the shortest amount of time. Every organization has priorities that influence the kinds of details that must be gleaned during an interview and the kinds of candidates that are desired. A wide range of metrics are used by development divisions; some are currently or soon will be involved in campaigns; some have urgent short-term needs; and others have a more long-term focus. However, feedback from numerous development leaders from various backgrounds led to the development of a set of frequently asked questions that we present here, divided into five categories.

Making the resume the main topic of the interview, according to almost every development leader we spoke with for this article, is a mistake. The relationship between the hiring manager and potential gift officers is more about the future than the past. While past performance metrics are important, the number of zeros on a resume provides very little insight into a candidate’s creativity, drive, and capacity to establish and maintain deep, fruitful bonds with coworkers and potential donors. Results of gifts are influenced by a variety of factors, including the efforts of other people, so past performance is not always a reliable predictor of future success.

First, the interview should be meticulously planned, including who will participate and the settings. The major gift officer position requires the incumbent to interact with a variety of people in a variety of settings with ease and grace. Hiring managers should spend time with candidates outside of the conference room in a social setting, such as over a meal, to see how they perform under various circumstances, in addition to conducting one-on-one interviews. At least one small group of two or three people should include individuals from outside the development shop. Before the interview process starts, interviewers should consult to make sure all topics are covered while avoiding asking the same questions repeatedly.

The core values of philanthropy are generosity, gratitude, and the capacity for philanthropists and organizations to collaborate to achieve shared objectives. Nearly every development leader cited with disdain a candidate who claimed credit for securing a gift during an interview without acknowledging his colleagues or the generosity of the donor who made the institutional investment. Strong candidates will have the confidence to be humble.

You can easily contact a person’s references to find out about their behavior from people they’ve worked with in the past, even though it may be challenging to assess someone’s level of discretion during an interview or over the phone. Some valuable contacts to reach out to are:

For another useful tip for the administration of your nonprofit organization, check out this informative article on fundraising consultant fees from Averill Fundraising Solutions.

In every nonprofit’s experience, there comes a time when your team becomes aware that a major gift officer is absent. The teammate in charge of all fundraising tasks involving cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major donors is known as a major gift officer.

However, discretion is only one component of an “effective MGO.” Check out this major giving guide from ClearView CRM for more details on major gift best practices.

Each person will view your potential major giving officer differently depending on how much interaction they have, and those variations are crucial to your comprehension of your potential MGO!

What field experience do you have for a MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER POSITION?

Answer tips

Share details pertaining to the position you’re applying for. If you lack the necessary experience, try to come as close as you can.

If your employer has asked you this question, you can share your experience. Inform the employer of the duties you undertook while working there. You are able to identify the modules and programs you have worked on. What were your achievements regarding different programs.

Answer sample

I have been working with computers since 2001. I also have a degree in network support/computer repair. My last three computers have been built by me, and I previously worked for Dell. So I have around 15 years experience working with computers.


What makes a great major gift officer?

An excellent major gifts officer can communicate clearly on any channel, whether it be in person, on the phone, or in writing. Building relationships with donors and communicating regularly rather than persistently will foster a relationship naturally without overwhelming prospects because donors don’t like to be badgered.

Why are major gifts important?

The majority of your organization’s annual revenue comes from major gifts. They empower a nonprofit to finance its initiatives, which in turn enables it to have a positive influence on the lives of its numerous beneficiaries. Unlike before, you can extend the reach of your efforts by interacting with more people.

How do I prepare for a fundraising interview?

11 Interviewing Tips For Fundraising Professionals
  1. Be professional in videoconference interviews.
  2. Justify your professional suitability for the position.
  3. Expect negative questions.
  4. Request clarification when questions are unclear or difficult.
  5. In group interviews, make eye contact with everyone.

How do I prepare for a development director interview?

5 Tips to Prepare for a Development Director Interview
  1. Learn About the Organization. …
  2. Enter the Organization’s Fundraising Funnel. …
  3. Search Your Network for Connections. …
  4. Prepare for Common Interview Questions. …
  5. Have a Case Study in Your Back Pocket.

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