The 7 Pillars Of A Major Gift Program–Pillar #2: Make Sure You Have The Facts!

In this seven part series we’re talking about what makes for the ideal major gift program.  So far we’ve established that it is important to have the proper context for major gift fundraising – an ideal structure and organization for this important high touch activity.  Without a proper “home” for major gift fundraising you can’t hope to be successful.

Pillar #2 is about analysis or, as I have titled this post, “Make Sure You Have the Facts!” 

I always like to start any endeavor or any plan with fact gathering.  What is true?  What is real?  Those are important questions before you jump into action.  In major gifts we get so focused on getting the money and reaching management goals that we hardly stop to figure out who we should be relating to.

“Fire!  Ready?  Aim!”

I know the pressure to reach your management goals is bearing down on you.  And even if it isn’t, you have that internal pressure to achieve, to prove you have value, and, to do good work.

But, hang on!  Stop!  Analyze first.  What is true?  What is real?

Jeff and I spend a great deal of time talking about analysis and how important it is as the major driver in caseload donor selection and performance.  Why is this so important?  Because not just any donor on the caseload will do.  If you’re going to have, as we suggest, 150 qualified donors on your caseload, you’ll need at least three times that number off of your donor file for a caseload pool to qualify down to the 150.  And, of all the donors on your file, you will need to know which ones to select.

So, how do you get to what is true and real?  How do you get to the facts?  Here is what we think.  You will need to:

  1. Look at your donor file and find those donors who are consistently giving $1000+ cume over recent calendar years (donors think calendar not fiscal) – at least the current year plus three past years.
  2. Pair that information to any wealth/asset information you have to determine capacity.
  3. Organize this information by types of donors (individual donors, foundations, corps/businesses, other organizations).
  4. Select off recent high givers (actual giving) that have high capacity.
  5. Keep an eye on recently lapsed high givers that have high capacity.
  6. Put all those donors that have the highest recent giving, plus high capacity, onto your caseload pool list.
  7. Put this list through a qualifying process to arrive at your qualified pool.

This is how you get to the facts about WHO to put on a caseload pool and then qualify.

Then, we suggest, once you have a qualified caseload, you do this same analysis with the caseload every month  to keep an eye on how the donors are performing and what remedial steps you should take in managing the caseload.

Notice that this whole process is about continually crunching the data.  Why?  To uncover what is happening with donors and thereby have THAT be your guide to action and planning.

To be sure, all of this analysis is complex and takes time.  But it is an important pillar for success in major gift fundraising.

A friend once told me, “facts are friendly”.  And they are.  Sometimes they are really hard to come by. But pursue them with discipline and energy and you will find that they truly are the friends people say they are.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Data, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Marketing Plans, Philanthopy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The 7 Pillars Of A Major Gift Program–Pillar #2: Make Sure You Have The Facts!

  1. Kent Schell says:

    Gratifying to see this!

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