In this series of seven posts, you will learn the indispensable categories of work that we at Veritus believe are required for any major gift program to be successful. (You can read all of these together in our free White Paper.) In my last entry, I talked about the attributes of the ideal major gift organization. Now, let’s talk about one crucial thing you need in any program: the facts!

Key #2: 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.  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?
At Veritus, we 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 to start with at least three times that number from your donor file to qualify a caseload pool 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 do:

  1. Look at your donor file and find those donors who are consistently giving $1,000+ cumulatively 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, corporations/businesses, other organizations).
  4. Select 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 which will then be put through a qualification process. 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 then use THAT as your guide to action and planning. To be sure, all of this analysis is complex, and it takes time.  But it is an important pillar for success in major gift fundraising. There’s the old axiom, “facts are friendly.”  And they are.  But sometimes they are really hard to come by. If you pursue them with discipline and energy, you will find that they truly are the friends people say they are.
You can read all of our Seven Keys together in one document by requesting our free White Paper – click here.
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