Welcome back to the Major Gifts Challenge! If you’re unfamiliar with the Challenge, check out the introductory video here.
A list of potential donors, often called a portfolio or even a pipeline, helps you secure Major Gifts. Today you’ll learn how to create a profitable portfolio.
In the last Major Gifts Challenge video, you learned how to create lists of your biggest and most loyal donors. Now it’s time to narrow those lists into a manageable portfolio of prospective major gift donors.
Your Goal is a Manageable List of Prospective Donors
It’s easy to become overwhelmed or paralyzed looking at a large list of Major Donor Prospects. Narrowing the list takes some careful thought, but making it manageable is critical for success.
Right now, you should have the lists of your largest and most loyal individual donors in front of you.
If you’re thinking, “What donors? I don’t have any lists or donors,” fear not. Next week’s video will address your concerns, but stick with me for now. You’ll need this information in the near future when you do have donors lists.
Assuming you do have lists of donors — your largest and most loyal in front of you — the next step is to schedule a meeting of your major gift team, staff and board members who are well-connected in the community (and might know many of the people on your lists). This team should come together to help you narrow down the lists, and create your initial major gift portfolio.
During the meeting, serve food — ALWAYS serve food. Depending on the time of day, you don’t have to provide a meal, but snacks are a must when volunteers are involved.
If you have access to wealth screening, screen the names on your lists prior to the meeting and bring that information with you.
How to Rate Your Prospective Donors
Let your team know that the goal of the meeting is to “rate” the people on your list by affinity and capacity in order to come up with the best possible portfolio of major gift donors.
You will be giving each person on your lists two scores. The scores range 1 through 5 with 5 being the highest score.
Affinity for your organization
The first score is for affinity. Here you determine or at least guestimate how much each person loves your organization and cares about the mission. Are they active volunteers? Do they give a lot of money? Do they give frequently or more than once a year? Score each person based on their affinity for your organization.
Capacity to give
Next up is the capacity score. As a group, give everyone another score 1 through 5 for their ability and propensity to give a major gift.
This will be easier if you’ve done a wealth screening, but use what you know about the person. What do they give to your organization and to other organizations? What do they do for a living? Where do they live, and so forth.
Here’s an example of what your rating system might look like…
Ability to make a major gift:
5 – $100,000+
4 – $50,000 – $99,999
3 – $25,000 – $49,000
2 – $10,000 – $24,999
1 – Under $10,000
If you’d only have 1’s using this scale, then adjust it to:
5 – $25,000+
4 – $10,000 – $24,999
3 – $5,000 – $9,999
2 – $1,000 – $4,999
1 – Under $1,000
Once everyone on your lists has two scores, then add them together. For example, Jane Smith may have a 4 for affinity and a 4 for capacity, so she would have a total score of 8.
The people with scores of 8, 9, and 10 will go on your prospect list.
Start with a list of 20 individuals. Once you’ve gotten through those names, you can always add more.
Challenge Yourself Action Item
Step 1: Call a meeting.
Call a meeting of your development team (volunteers and staff) and work together to rate the people on yours lists. If there are still corporations and foundations on your lists, be sure to cross them out.
Step 2: Score each individual.
Score each person on your list on a 1-5 scale for both affinity and capacity. Combine those scores and narrow your list down to those with the 20 highest scores.
Going Further with Major Gifts
As you know, many of the concepts behind raising major gifts are simple, but they’re not so easy to implement.
You may be scratching your head, wondering how to determine someone’s capacity to give. In my online course, Mastering Major Gifts, I provide much more detail about how to determine an appropriate score. It’s not easy, but there are some rules of thumb. I also provide a cheatsheet to help you and your volunteers streamline the process.
Act, Comment and Participate
Now it’s your turn to share. Have you tried anything like this in the past? What’s worked and what’s not worked? How will you determine how to accurately score your donor’s affinity and capacity?
If you’ve never tried this before, what concerns do you have before pulling your team meeting together? How will you overcome those concerns?
Join the conversation in the comments.