Do a Gut Check With Your Donor Portfolio
Is every donor in your portfolio qualified? More often than not, the answer we get from a front-line fundraiser is, “of course” when we start working with them.
Knowing that we’re going to get this answer we conduct a gut-check exercise by asking these questions:
- When was the last time you communicated with this donor?
- When was their last gift and how was it solicited?
- Why are they in your portfolio?
- What are the donor’s passions and interests?
- Why does the donor have them?
- Why are they giving to your organization?
- How best do they like to be communicated with?
- When was the last time you personally solicited this donor?
- When was the last time you had a face-to-face or Zoom meeting with this donor?
- What is the vision you have for this donor?
By asking these questions it becomes abundantly clear whether a donor is qualified or not. Qualified means that the donor actually wants a more personal relationship with your organization and has told you through their actions and communications that they welcome your engagement with them.
The fact is most major gifts officers have an abundance of unqualified donors in their portfolios.
If you’ve never done this gut-check exercise and asked these questions, I urge you to do this immediately. Even if you have 150 donors in your portfolio right now (the maximum number of donors in a qualified portfolio), my guess is that over half of them would not pass the gut-check test.
This is the No. 1 reason major gift officers are so frustrated with their work. You’re trying to engage with unqualified donors in your portfolio and that is preventing you from successfully building relationships with them. Additionally, if you have a number of donors (sometimes we see hundreds of them) in your portfolio that you are not actively engaging, you're denying them the opportunity to receive some attention in your mid-level program.
Richard and I know this exercise is of extreme importance because having worked with thousands of front-line fundraisers, we know that once major gift officers know who is qualified and who isn’t, they can rebuild their portfolios with truly qualified donors. Then, life as a major gift officer positively changes in a dramatic way.
Now, you’ll be working with donors who actually want to engage with you. That’s a much better place to be as a fundraiser. It’s so much easier building relationships with donors who invite that type of engagement from you.
But you have to do the gut check with your portfolio today. Use the questions I supplied to help make your life easier.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.