If you had a Swiss Army knife for the perfect major gift fundraiser, the tools in it would include ones for motivation, collaboration, calculation, creativity, and most of all efficiency. With a portfolio full of prospects, a fundraiser must learn to strategize on what matters most – being efficient with their time to determine which of the larger gifts have the best chance of closing. The “efficient” fundraiser succeeds and raises millions of dollars by applying these three strategies:
- Focus on top priority prospects
- Complete a lot of visits
- Make lots of asks
To help fundraisers get organized and stay focused, keep these two tools at the ready: the monthly prospect tracker, and the quarterly review sheet. Both can be used by the individual fundraiser or manager with their direct reports as you will see.
Monthly Prospect Tracker
The monthly prospect tracker is intended to keep fundraisers focused on their most promising opportunities – or the major gifts that have the best chance of closing in the near term. They will spend most of their time with these prospects. This spreadsheet will help determine the most efficient path to move prospects through the donor pipeline. By completing the tracker at the beginning of each month, select those prospects with upcoming gifts to close and determine next steps to make it happen.
Instructions to fill in the monthly prospect tracker:
- Prospect Name: Copy and paste all of your prospects into this column.
- Solicitation Timing: From the pull down menu, choose if you are going to make an ask this fiscal year or next fiscal year. Aim for 10 prospects for this fiscal year and 10 prospects for next fiscal year. Those prospects without an upcoming ask can be left blank in this column/field.
- Gift Amount: Enter the amount of the potential gift.
- This Month’s Activity: Choose the activity you want to complete this month. This column should be filled in if the prospect has a Current Year or Next Year Ask. Not all of your prospects need this column filled out, but the priority prospects most definitely will! Here are the selections from the pull-down:
- Call/Email Prospect
- Visit with Prospect
- Other Engagement Activity
- Make the Ask
- Close the Gift
- Stewardship Activities
- Notes: Add specific next steps with your prospect here.
Once completed, sort by the “Solicitation Timing.” This will bring all prospects with an upcoming ask to the top of the list, thus creating a strategy and priority punch list. This prioritization keeps the fundraiser focused on the prospects needing the most time to close a gift in the near term. Do this at the beginning of each month to help plan and execute an action plan of activities in the weeks ahead.
The quarterly review is a snap shot of a fundraiser’s progress in terms of metrics and asks. This is a great exercise for managers to review regularly with their direct reports or for a fundraiser to do themselves to make sure they are on track with visits and upcoming asks and closes. By completing this report quarterly instead of only once or twice a year, a fundraiser can determine more regularly where they are and where they need to be. This document contains the following information:
- Commits metrics: how much money you have closed in the current fiscal year.
- Visit metrics: how many visits you have completed in the current fiscal year.
- Major Gift Asks: number of asks you have competed in the current fiscal year.
- Major Gift Closes: number of major gifts you have closed in the current fiscal year.
- Asks to be made this quarter: prospect names and ask amount(s) you will make in the upcoming quarter.
- Asks to be closed this quarter: prospect names and ask amount(s) you will close in the upcoming quarter.
Not everyone starts out as an efficient fundraiser, but with the right set of tools, successful strategies can be learned. Use these two tools to help outline a map to determine the best, and most efficient path to more major gifts.