One of the most frustrating things for managers and MGOs alike is when there is a misfire on performance reporting. The MGO is asked to report on one set of factors, finance is expecting information on another set, and the two ships pass in the night.
This is a lethal situation because the only person who will lose here will be the MGO. Jeff and I have heard some pretty serious allegations on the part of people outside of the MGO program – allegations that go something like this: “well, they said they were going to do X and all we hear is what they are doing in Y. I am not sure we are getting the real story.” And this one statement frames the problem and calls for a basic solution which, simply stated, is this:
How a MGO’s performance will be measured
needs to be carefully crafted and set
before the evaluation period begins.
It must then be widely published
so that everyone has the same expectations
and is aligned on what is being measured.
So whatever you believe is important in MGO performance evaluation, the one thing you need to do is (a) settle what is being measured, (b) have the MGO’s agreement on it, and (c) be sure finance and others, anyone else who has a stake in the program, understand it and are aligned with it.
What Jeff and I have said so far in this series is that before you start to measure anything, you need to have 4 things in place for each MGO:
- A qualified caseload of at least 150 donors.
- A goal for each donor on that caseload.
- And a plan for each donor which outlines the meaningful connection strategy the MGO will employ with the donor to fulfill his or her passions and interests.
- Then you need a tier designation for each donor (A, B or C or 1, 2, 3) that places the high-inclination, high-capacity donors in the A or 1 tier, the next level of inclination and capacity in the B or 2 tier and the rest in the final tier. This tiering helps the MGO focus their time on those donors whose gifts could do the most good if their passions and interests match the mission of the organization.
Once you have these four things in place, then you can set about reporting on performance.
Here are the key areas we believe should be reported on, at a frequency of reporting that everyone can agree with, although monthly seems to be the right pace:
- Number of meaningful connections – You will want to know how many meaningful connections each MGO has made and that his or her time is being spent wisely in making those connections. There is a variety of opinion on how many connections should be made each month. You can develop the number that fits your organization. But the important thing to manage on this point is this: Is your MGO on a track to make meaningful connections with all the donors on her caseload? And does the plan for connecting take into account the tiering of donors done earlier in the plan? The MGO will spend disproportionately more time with her A donors, slightly less with the B donors and even less with the C donors. I am interested in knowing that a MGO is actually connecting with every donor on her caseload and that every connection is purposeful and progressively moving the donor-organization relationship forward. That relationship should build to where donor passions and interests are fulfilled, and the organization secures financial resources for program. If that is not happening, then the MGO’s work is not effective. You need to measure that.
- Number of stewardship connections – Once the donor has given, there needs to be stewardship of the donor, telling her she made a difference, providing her with “proof of performance” (i.e. that the gift she gave really did something), testimonials that a life has been changed or an environmental or animal problem has been addressed, etc. You will want to know that the MGO is actually providing all of this information back to the donor.
- Number of asks – Conceptually, every donor on the caseload needs to be asked at least once a year. Some may be asked more than once, because the cadence of the relationship and the satisfaction the donor is receiving in the relationship is such that he wants to give more. But minimally, there should be 150 asks, and these asks should be calendared in a plan – which is why you can report on them. Were they actually done? Were they done when the plan called for them to be done?
- Working the plan for each caseload donor – After actually creating a plan for each donor, the next most critical point in caseload management is working the plan. It is important to know that the MGO actually did what he said he would do. You need to measure this.
- How did each donor perform year to year? – At Veritus Group, we like to have at least a four-year giving history of each donor on the MGO’s qualified caseload. We want to be able to see quickly what the donor has been doing (or not doing) over time. You will want to know what the story is behind each donor’s increase or decrease in giving. The MGO needs to know the story and be able to share it. At a macro level, you can report how many caseload donors are up YTD over last YTD, how many are staying even with last year’s giving, and how many are down. For the donors that are down, you need to hear the story on those donors.
- Total Dollars Raised – And then, of course, dollars raised. When you sum up all the dollars raised for every donor on the caseload, it gives you a good view of how the caseload is performing economically this YTD over last YTD.
Jeff and I realize that many folks want to have solid numbers and percentages that measure every aspect of caseload management. What has been frustrating to many of our colleagues is that even when they have all of those metrics and measurements in place, the caseload doesn’t grow and the MGO seems not to be as effective as they would wish.
This very point is why caseload management and measurement of performance has to be more hands-on, and the traditional numbers can’t possibly tell the whole story – a story that can only be uncovered by sitting with the MGO and going through the caseload donor by donor, making sure that (a) a meaningful connection is being made in each case, and (b) the connections are progressing toward the fulfillment of the donors’ passions and interests, which will result in an ask and a gift.
This is precisely what the MGO is trying to do with each and every donor. He is sitting with that donor, uncovering what that donor wants in the relationship, and then setting about to make those wants a reality as they align to the needs of the organization. This is careful and purposeful activity that is measured, strategic, timely and progressive.
True caseload management is doing what we would ideally and strategically be doing with one donor, but doing it with 149 other donors and then making sure all of the activity is purposeful and effective. This is what we should be measuring and reporting on.
Read the full series:
Loved this article ! Had a quick question. Are there sone general touch point expectations at the B and C ranking in a portfolio. I assume A donors are really built and guided by the donors wishes.
Your insights are appreciated!!
Hi, Doug. Every donor on a qualified caseload has a personalized plan with touchpoints in that plan. And all the donor plans are driven by the identified donor interests and passions. The only difference in the touchpoints for an “A” donor vs. a “C” donor would be that the “A” donor has more personal contact and increased personalization. The major point, though, is that every donor on a qualified caseload has a plan that is guided by that donor’s passions and interests.
Thank you for your insights. How do you recommend calculating dollars raised? Do you include pledge payments (from pledges established in previous years) in the total dollars raised for a fiscal year?