You are 65% through the year and you are behind in reaching your goals. What should you do? Your first inclination might be just to do more of what you have been doing. Or hope that one donor will come through really big and take you over the top. Or maybe, just maybe, everything is going to work out just fine. You have planted the seeds. Now you just need to sit back and watch the harvest come in.
I don’t think any of those approaches will work.
Last week, I sat with a very talented MGO who was facing this very situation. He was nine months into his fiscal year and sitting at $900,000 in the door against a $1.2 million goal for the year. He was worried about how he would secure the other $300,000 needed to reach his goal.
We were looking at his caseload, going over every donor and talking about what we could do with this one, then that one, and that one, etc. It was a tedious experience. When we were at donor #36 on his list of 150 qualified donors, I stopped the process and said: “Paul, I think we need to focus on where you have the highest probability of success in these remaining months.” And I did five things:

  1. I took the donor list, which had giving history for the last four years plus current year-to-date giving, and sorted it by what each donor gave in total during the LAST year. My objective was to see who gave the most last year and put them into a hierarchy of value – high to low giving.
  2. I then took the top 50 donors (1-50) – those who had given the most last year – and summed up their total giving LAST YEAR.
  3. Then I looked at what those same 50 donors had given so far THIS year. The total they had given so far was $326,000 less than last year. Keep this figure in mind: $326,000 less.
  4. Then I took the next 50 donors (51-100) and went through the same exercise outlined in points #2 and 3 above. That group of 50 donors had given $8,000 less than last year.
  5. Then I took the last group of 50 donors (101-150) and went through the same process. And this last group of donors had given $110,000 MORE than last year, but there was one unexpected one-time gift of $100,000 in that group.

This little exercise revealed that the greatest opportunity to secure the $300,000 this MGO needed was to focus his efforts on the 50 donors who gave the most last year. They had already shown their commitment to the organization through their giving last year, and many of them had not given at the same level that they did last year.
So Paul and I focused on those 50 donors, plus one donor in the middle group, and asked ourselves what could be done in each of those situations. We found that several donors could not and would not give at the same level as last year for one reason or another. We also found that a solid group of donors could give more than they gave last year if presented with the right offer that matched their interests and passions. The net result of this exercise was a smaller, targeted list of donors for whom the MGO could develop strategies.
In addition, we created less labor-intensive strategies for the lower 100 donors since most of Paul’s attention, during these final months, will be on a selected few.
I think Paul will be successful in securing the $300,000 he needs to achieve his goal for this fiscal year. Why? Because he will be focused. His strategies will be targeted. He will put his best time and his best thinking into a selected few donors while he manages the rest of his caseload.
Jeff and I have always said that no donor is the same. That means you must treat them differently, not only in WHAT you say to them and what offer you present, but also in how much time you dedicate to working with them. Time is the only asset that you as a MGO have. Use it wisely.