Is every donor in your portfolio qualified? More often than not, the answer we get from a front-line fundraiser is “of course” when we start working with them.

Knowing that we’re going to get this answer, we conduct a “gut-check” exercise by asking these questions:

  1. When was the last time you communicated with this donor?
  2. When was their last gift, and how was it solicited?
  3. Why are they in your portfolio?
  4. What are the donor’s passions and interests?
  5. Why does the donor have them?
  6. Why are they giving to your organization?
  7. How best do they like to be communicated with?
  8. When was the last time you personally solicited this donor?
  9. When was the last time you had a face-to-face or Zoom meeting with this donor?
  10. What is the vision you have for this donor?

By asking these questions, it becomes abundantly clear whether a donor is qualified or not. Qualified means that the donor actually wants a more personal relationship with your organization, and they’ve told you through their actions and communications that they welcome your engagement with them.

The fact is, most MGOs have an abundance of unqualified donors in their portfolios.

If you’ve never done this “gut-check” exercise and asked these questions, I urge you to do this immediately. Even if you have 150 donors in your portfolio right now (the maximum number of donors a full-time fundraiser should have in a qualified portfolio), my guess is that over half of them would not pass the “gut-check” test.

This is the number one reason major gift officers are so frustrated with their work. You’re trying to engage with unresponsive donors in your portfolio, and that’s preventing you from successfully building relationships with them. Additionally, if you have a number of donors in your portfolio that you are not actively engaging (sometimes we see hundreds of them), you’re denying them the opportunity to receive some more appropriate attention in your mid-level program.

Richard, our team and I know that this exercise is of extreme importance because, having worked with thousands of front-line fundraisers, we know that once a MGO knows who is qualified and who isn’t, they can rebuild their portfolios with truly qualified donors. Then, life as a major gift officer changes for the better, in a dramatic way.

With a qualified caseload, you’ll be working with donors who actually want to engage with you. That’s a much better place to be as a fundraiser. It’s so much easier building relationships with donors who invite that type of engagement from you.

But you have to do the gut check with your portfolio today. Use the questions above to help make your life easier.


PS — Learn more about qualifying donors in our free White Paper.