How To Make Sure Your Major-Gifts Planning Is On Point
- Assess progress against goals and plans. See above, under monthly. Also, modify individual donor plans as needed.
- Assess donor qualification. Take a look at your caseload donors and determine whether some of them have simply, through their behavior — or lack of it — shut down. In other words, while you thought they would be connecting with you, every attempt you have made to connect has failed and, therefore, it may be time to replace them with other donors who do want to connect. Be careful here, we don't want you trading a bunch of donors out every quarter. That would undermine the integrity of your caseload. But you may have a few that require some attention. The point is, look at this once a quarter.
- Evaluate donor tiers. While you are evaluating donor qualification, also evaluate your original tiering (A,B,C). Now that you have a quarter under your belt, you have more information on each individual donor's "value" and potential. You may want to upgrade some donors to an A status, where you will spend more time. You may downgrade others.
- Assess quality of program info. You have been securing program info every month, or even more frequently. Now it's time to evaluate if you are getting the right information and if the program information system you are using is really working for you. If it's not, i.e. if you are not getting meaningful and useable program information, then you need to re-engineer your program info gathering system. Do it so you can get back on track in this important area.
And, finally, on a yearly basis:
- Assess progress against goals and plans. See above, under monthly. But also, on a yearly basis, evaluate how effective your planning has been for each donor. What do you need to change? What worked? What didn't?
- Re-calibrate your caseload. This is the time you take a very serious look at your caseload and decide what donors to keep on the caseload and which ones to replace. The key criteria for replacing donors is simply this: You have discovered, by contacting the donor, that she is just not interested in partnering with you as you thought she might be. That's it. You must move on. And as you re-calibrate you will need to go through the process outlined at the top of this post to re-qualify and plan.
- Evaluate the year's efforts. Much like point No. 1 above, this is the time you step back and look at how you did, what you did and what worked. You then purpose to keep doing the stuff that worked. You also purpose to identify where you have failed, where you need help, what you could do differently. You do this so you can get help and change your ways. This is very important. There is no sense to just doing the same old things.
There you have it — a blueprint for major-gifts planning. You may want to print this out and post it where you can see it regularly. Some of our client MGOs have actually scheduled these planning points on their calendar to make sure they do them. Good idea.
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.