3 Economic Elements of a Major Gift Caseload
A major gift caseload is not just a bunch of donors who meet a certain giving or capacity criteria.
All of this is true:
- Current giving and capacity play into the selection of a caseload pool. From this pool, you should qualify the donors who want to connect.
- Your caseload will have donors of different economic quality, which is why you should tier your caseload so you know where to spend your time.
But when you get up at the 10,000-foot level and look down, a caseload is made up of three groups of donors. I call this the three economic elements of a caseload.
1. The Core Donors
These are donors who you have qualified and with whom you have a good mutual relationship. They are engaged, involved and contributing to your organization at expected levels. They make up 85% to 88% of your caseload.
2. The Transformational Givers
These are the one to three caseload donors, who you have identified and who can give transformational gifts. They haven’t done it yet but they could. And you are on a course, which may take a year or two, to make that happen. These donors make up 2% of your caseload — maybe less.
3. The New Donors
Then there are the new donors. This is the cohort of donors, who you qualify one or two times a year, to replace the donors on your caseload. Donors that are removed have either changed their minds about a relationship with you, have had some life circumstance that has changed the giving relationship with you or have simply gone away with no explanation. When you originally qualified them, you thought the relationship would work out. It didn’t. So now you have to replace them.
Also in this group of donors are those who will be displaced on the caseload because higher value donors have presented themselves in your donor pipeline. Think of it this way. You only have 150 “donor slots” available in a year. You must fill each one with those donors of the highest economic value. This reality will force you to replace donors on your caseload for no other reason than they have a lesser economic value than the new donors who have shown up. This group of donors will make up around 10% of your caseload every year.
Be sure and manage your caseload to make sure that you are on track to manage these three economic elements of your caseload. If, as you are reading this, you are saying, “Hey, Richard, I thought you said this major gift thing was not about the money. Why are you approaching a caseload mix on a purely economic basis?”
Here’s the reason.
Remember that there are two dynamics in major gift caseload management:
- The donor dynamic. Fulfill the interests and passions of your donors. This is solely focused on how you can serve the donor. It is more about service than it is about money. In fact, the money follows the service.
- The organization dynamic. Fulfill your contract to your organization. You have to deliver economic value. You are being paid to raise money and you must be cost effective in doing that. You cannot allow an economically non-productive donor to occupy any of your 150 donor slots. Each donor must deliver economic value greater than the cost to manage them.
These two dynamics seem to be in opposition. They aren’t. Your forward-facing work toward the donor is about the donor and helping them do what they want to do on the planet via your organization. You do that while you are delivering economic value to your organization.
Think about all of this and make sure you are properly managing all three groups of donors in your caseload. When you do this right you will be doing the right thing for your donors and the organization.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.