Who Should Be on My Caseload?
The subject of caseload composition is a hotly debated topic in major-gifts circles, just like the subject of how many donors should even be on a caseload. What kind of donors should be on my caseload? I'll answer that in a second.
Jeff and I are routinely asked how many qualified donors should be on a major-gifts officer (MGO) caseload. The answer is 150. Any major-gifts caseload should not have more than 150 qualified donors on it. That's the max. You could have less, but not more.
By qualified, we mean the MGO has actually contacted the donor and become convinced that the donor wants to relate to the MGO/organization in a more personal way. Most major-gifts programs do not do this, and it is the core reason for their failure.
But, once you get this straight, then the question of caseload composition comes up. That is, what kinds of donors should be on your caseload? By kinds I do not mean gender, age, ethnicity, political or religious leaning, etc. By kinds, I mean a selection process that takes two factors into account: inclination and capacity.
Inclination means that the donor has actually given recently. (If the donor hasn't, why are you engaged with her?) This is basic! Yet I often get into discussions with MGOs and managers about why Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones, who hasn't given for three years, is still a really good prospect! Even better than the 56 other donors who have given sizable gifts in the last 12 months. This discussion blows my mind. What are these MGOs and managers thinking?
Capacity means the financial ability of the donor to give.
So, if you put these two things together, which is more valuable?
- A donor who has a net worth of $150 million and gave you $100 three years ago.
- A donor who is REALLY influential in the community and has a lot of connections and is interested in your cause.
- A donor who has a net worth of $10 million and gave you $5,000 three months ago.
I hope you picked the $10 million dollar net worth donor. Why? Because that donor is INCLINED to give to you. She is engaged. She is interested. She is with you.
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.