Want to Hit Every Fundraising Goal You Have? Align Your Portfolios.
As a fundraising operation, you’ve done everything right - you’ve analyzed past performance, you’ve researched best practices, you’ve set goals, assigned prospects following industry best practices, you’ve hired the right people and you manage them by the book. Yet, every year, one or more of their goals goes unmet - long-term sustainability (a.k.a. qualification) goals lose out to immediate need priorities; annual fund goals lose out to shiny, exciting new projects. Why does that happen?
I believe that the disconnect comes largely from the way fundraisers are assigned to portfolios.
Consider these two scenarios - call them Fundraiser A and Fundraiser B.
Fundraiser A supports a library and has a best-practice portfolio with a nice balance of 70% qualified major gift prospects and 30% qualifications. They also have a set of goals that encompasses some leadership annual donors, qualifications, and two different fundraising priorities. Can you tell whether this fundraiser’s portfolio positions them for success? I can tell you that 40 qualification prospects are probably not enough to meet the 10 new major gift prospects goal, but everything else is a guessing game.
Fundraiser B supports a performing arts organization. They have a similar set of goals, but they built a gift pyramid for each of the two projects and evaluated what they would need :
- Outreach Program: 20 qualified prospects who can give between $5,000-$25,000 (assuming a conversion rate of 3-4 qualified prospects per every 1 donor)
- Stage Project: 90 qualified prospects who can give between $10,000-$100,000*
Do you think that Fundraiser B is positioned for success? 310 prospects may seem like about 200 too many, but it may not be - Patron Society renewals may require focused energy a couple of months out of the year, and maybe each of the other projects has its own time constraints. Even if the number of prospects under management was an issue, at least we are able to clearly pinpoint it and identify strategies to address it.
By creating clear segments within Fundraiser B’s portfolio and aligning each segment to a specific goal, Fundraiser B accomplished several very important tasks:
- Enabled fundraiser to focus their outreach effort
In my experience, skilled fundraisers find qualification work more of a rote task that they like to schedule in blocks. If their prospects are clearly segmented into a qualification list, they can schedule 2 hours on a Wednesday and solely work their qualification segment. Likewise, when they go to meet the Stage Director for a planning meeting, pulling just the Stage Project list is a breeze.
- Enabled fundraiser and manager to track both progress toward the goal for each goal AND identify opportunities for portfolio fine-tuning
If the fundraiser gets close to reaching the Community Outreach goal with 10 donors still remaining in Cultivation, they may be able to re-evaluate how much effort to spend in that segment v. the Stage Renovation Project.
- Elevated Qualification work to its rightful place as an equally important goal for the fundraiser
When a fundraiser’s portfolio is simply divided into qualified and qualification prospects, as fundraisers start to run out of time to reach their dollar goals for the year, their focus and attention naturally shift to the qualified pool, leaving qualifications for some other time that may never come.
Fundraisers are pretty amazing at what they do, they are relationship-building artists. But no matter how good a fundraiser is, their success and ability to meet their goals is ultimately tied to the makeup of their portfolio. And portfolio building is a science - a fairly linear, mathematical process of aligning top-level goals with individual goals and metrics, and further aligning prospect pools and portfolios to those goals.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, connect with Gravyty today.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Data Solutions & Implementations, Marijana Radić Boone. Marijana's career has been built on helping mission-driven organizations use technology to achieve new levels of success. A former Gravyty customer, Marijana understands first-hand how artificial intelligence transforms what's possible in fundraising.