Tag Archives: moves management

5 Tips to Make Your CRM Successful at Change

ColorArrowsI dare you to try this search! Go to the search engine of your choice and type in…

CRM “change agent”

Are you surprised how many relevant results you get? There are many similar if not the same names for the process of putting the customer, or in our case the donor, first. Here’s a few:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Donor Relationship Management
  • Relationship Management System
  • Moves Management System
  • Prospect Management System

So what’s this about being a change agent? How could anyone reasonably expect CRM software to be a change agent?!

Obviously CRM software is not a magic wand capable of implementing change. But creating or changing your relationship management system is a powerful opportunity to raise the bar in your fundraising efforts. Unfortunately, all too often this opportunity is missed because its role as a change agent is not recognized.

No matter what size your organization and no matter how many people in your fundraising office, any change to your relationship management system is going to affect a number of different players on your team – most potently when it changes performance assessments and incentives.

Following are five tips to help make your relationship management system a successful change agent:

1 – Listen to the key players first.

You are listening for a few critical items: (a) Are you using the same language as the key players? (b) Do your proposed changes match their values? (c) Might any of the proposed changes create undesired consequences? This is Internal Relationship Building 101. Yes, we must do it internally, not just externally with our donors.

2 – Create an internal campaign to sell the changes.

Have fun with this. Go all out. Create simple explanations you can recite in your sleep. Give it a brand and tagline. Use color. No person’s role is too small not to be an advocate of your change. If staff don’t want it or even know what it is, how successful do you think you’ll be?

3- Research suggested performance measures.

Whether you network with your colleagues, read vendor and association research studies, scan for blogs and articles online, or all of the above, do your homework so you can make as few mistakes as possible. Don’t get stuck on research, but don’t be skimpy. If you are recommending a smaller portfolio size, you’d better know the philosophy behind that approach or you may risk raising fewer dollars while you figure it out.

4 – Make sure you have a thoughtful implementation plan.

Why not find a way to test-run some or all of your changes before a full rollout? I’m not talking just the technology – a person should walk through the whole process too. Consider all the phases of your rollout and don’t forget to include training and re-training.

5 – Evaluation means it’s never over.

Your relationship management system will always face two persistent threats: (1) Change in the external fundraising environment such as donor behavior and the economy, and (2) Change in the internal organizational environment, such as changes in leadership and finances. Hopefully you won’t need to make big changes frequently, but if you regularly audit the performance of the system you will be better placed to react.

No matter how big or how small your fundraising office is, your relationship management system is a tool to help you get focused on your donors and prospects. One of the biggest obstacles to achieving success with any technology or system is getting everyone trained and willing to use it.

Other Articles You Might Like

Mastering Moves Management: 3 Key Pieces

Moves management is the process of moving a donor prospect from identification to major gift. Also known as prospect management, when you throw those terms into a search engine most of the results are for software companies, especially donor database companies. But I argue that moves management is not primarily a software solution but sincerely a *people* solution!

A database is a tool. Its importance increases as the number of an organization’s donors and friends increases. We need our donor database to keep track of gifts and all of the other information and tasks surrounding our donors and friends.

The more gift officers and the more major gift prospects you have, the more important it is to use your database in your moves management system. But beware! Anytime you spend more time typing into your database than you do talking with your prospects, you will struggle to raise enough money.

Moving a prospect usually requires a pretty intense relationship over a year or two. You need to discover her interests and motivations for giving and connect her in a very personal way to your organization. What if you have 100 prospects being moved? How about 300? And what if you have 3 gift officers moving prospects? Or 5, or 10, or more?

Now you seriously need a system!

Pretend you are an astronaut looking down on earth. Now pretend you are consultant looking at an organization from a distance. This organization has a moves management system humming along. You notice there are three gears in motion producing consistent relationships with prospects capable of making a major gift. These gears are:

Ratings – Each prospect is rated so you can stay focused on those who can help you reach your dollar goal.

Moves – Actions with prospects are deliberate and planned (and tracked in the database).

Reports – Regular printed reports are reviewed and regular meetings are held to build internal skills and keep all the moving parts in balance

Can you do moves management without a database? Of course you can! You could keep track of your gifts in Excel too, but it is rarely the best solution.

Mastering moves management requires learning the balance for your organization between the three moving gears:

  • How many ratings do you need to stay on path with the most capable prospects?
  • How will you plan for moves, make your moves, and record your moves?
  • What measurements should you report on to keep you accountable?
  • How often should you meet and who should meet to keep your major gifts program growing?

Everything in our world is in constant flux. Moves management requires re-balancing as your major gifts program grows and changes. If you keep the emphasis on the moves – on the in-person interactions with your donor prospects – everything else will find its place.

Have you mastered your moves?

Other Related Articles and Blog Posts:

Prospect Management Fundamentals (pdf)

How to Take Charge of Your Moves Management System (blog)

Moves Management = Money (blog)

3 Actions That Demonstrate Your High Prospect Research IQ

As a fundraiser, you may not need to know how every tool works, but you need to know enough to choose the tool with the right fit. How high is your prospect research IQ? Do you demonstrate the following three actions?

1) Knowing that an electronic wealth screening is not the same thing as having a prospect researcher profile your donor prospect.

When discussing best practices around prospect screenings and wealth screenings, the conversation always seems to start with “it depends”, and rightly so. But I state with conviction that an electronic screening is not and should never be confused with the work of a live, well-trained human being.

I don’t care how awesome their match method is or how many sources and formulas are used, an electronic screening is meant to prioritize a large group of records. A human being, a prospect researcher, is meant to qualify individual names and add a dose of reality to the data. A prospect researcher knows that Bugs Bunny, a seasoned executive with grown children, is not the same Bugs Bunny who graduated from Stanford in 2009.

Are you prioritizing a large list? Electronic screening. Are you working on a solicitation strategy? Donor prospect profile.

2) Recognizing that an investment in prospect research is well worth it – when you act upon the information.

I don’t want to tell you how many times I have provided profiles, rated a database, or otherwise identified and researched donor prospects only to learn that the information then sat dormant for months, even years. Why does this happen? I work mostly with small and medium organizations. Among them, the two most common reasons are (1) no performance goal tied to implementing the results, and (2) development staff underestimated the time they would need to spend acting – actually cultivating and soliciting donors.

We are as human as our donors.

If our donors give best under a sense of urgency, we also do our best cultivating and soliciting under a sense of urgency. Whether it is a campaign goal deadline or a target ask date, creating some kind of urgency will help you achieve more. Major gifts can provide a high rate of return on the prospect research investment, but it requires a serious dedication of time and resources.

Urgency will cause stress without success if there are not enough hours in the day to complete your tasks. If you are a busy fundraising professional already working a full day, you may need to consider either eliminating or deferring some of your current tasks, assigning them to another staff member, or hiring additional staff. Be practical about planning the time in your day before spending money on prospect research.

3) Raising major gifts by following through on prospect/moves management.

A prospect management system is like an exercise plan. If you keep neglecting your workouts, every time you exercise it will be difficult and you will feel tired. But if you follow the program, you will feel good and have more energy.

If you prioritize your prospects, take the actions necessary to deeply engage your prospect, and track and report your progress, you will be working the plan and will raise more and higher gifts. The level of excitement and interest you can generate in your donors (and yourself) through a disciplined prospect management system is amazing!

Other Blog Posts that Might Interest You

3 Steps to Major Gift Mojo!

5 Ways You Know You Need A Research Consultant

The Dangers of (Not) Managing Prospect Research

Defining an Action in Moves Management

How to Take Charge of Your Moves Management System

Managing Moves is a Workout!

So you want to implement a moves management system to ensure you are focusing on your best major gift prospects. Or you have a system, but you want to make it better. Good for you!

Moves Management is a Workout!
First, recognize that a moves management system is not a magical system where elves enter all your data and print reports whilst you sleep. Using a moves management system to track donor prospects is like getting physically fit – you have to workout! It requires you to:

  1. Enter information on each donor prospect record – at least:
    • Capacity rating, target ask, prospect stage, affinity/propensity
  2. Record your visits – you want to be sure:
    • Outcomes met the purpose
    • Advanced the prospect relationship
    • Something new was learned or
    • Contact resulted in a next step
  3. Periodically review your progress and start over at #1
    • Regular, internal prospect review meetings (at least monthly)

Assess Your Needs and Resources
Sometimes when you first start exercising, you find that you are so, so tired and wonder if getting fit will ever give you more energy and finely-toned muscles. It will! But you have to slog through the first bit of work. That said, you can’t swim across the English Channel tomorrow if today you are struggling to swim across the pool. Assess your needs and resources:

  • Are you starting from scratch or have you already been tracking prospects somewhere?
    • Tweaking a system is often easier than starting new
  • Will gift officers be tasked with entering tracking info plus their prospect actions, or is there another staff member available?
    • Assigning some data entry to other staff, especially on newly identified prospects, keeps down the grumbling and frees up your gift officers to go and get those major gifts – no excuses!
  • Do you have many solicitors, or just a few?
    • When the office is small, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible
  • Is this for ongoing major gifts or a campaign?
    • While similar, a campaign may warrant a higher degree of tracking

You Will be Tweaking
As you choose a combination of database fields and database reports (or maybe Excel lists and calendars if you are very small) together with your regular prospect reviews, you *should* find yourself tweaking the moves management system. For example, you might realize you are re-visiting disqualified prospects and decide to change your prospect stage like this:

First Method Second Method










This is a natural progression in your use of your system. Or maybe you find that it takes forever to enter the information in various fields around your donor database record and decide to limit your tracking to a few key pieces all in one easy-to-enter place in the database. Or maybe you find that monthly meetings are not enough and weekly meetings would keep everyone where they need to be with their prospect list.

Ask any fitness freak – taking the time to understand the best times and types of exercise for yourself makes all the difference in achieving your goals. Taking the time to get your system customized to your fundraising culture and constituents will make all the difference in whether you achieve your major gift goals. Not everyone has washboard abs and not every nonprofit has an efficient, high-performing major gifts program!

Give Yourself a Generous Year
Give yourself at least a year from your first effort to get the system really working smoothly. If it’s not working after a year, take a hard look at whether you (a) really need a system or (2) have put the right kind of effort into it. If you are a one-person shop cultivating ten people across the year, you can keep a lot of that in your head and your calendar. If you have multiple solicitors and/or need to boost your total prospect numbers (those under identification, cultivation and stewardship), you won’t be effective without a system.

Consider Getting a Coach
Olympic athletes wouldn’t dream of training and competing without a coach. Even the most dedicated athletes find themselves tired and frustrated, unable to “see” what is holding them back. A coach can keep your spirits up, redirect your efforts to keep you performing, and, step-by-step, help you reach ever higher goals.

If you are determined to reach your major gift goals, but find yourself unable to wrap your hands around moves management or even identifying good prospects to track, contact Aspire Research Group. We specializing in helping fundraisers reach their goals, guiding you comfortably every step of the way. Call (727) 231-0516 or email jen at aspireresearchgroup.com.

For more blog posts on moves management, click here: Moves Management

3 Shortcuts for Leveraging Prospect Research in Record Time!

The majority of nonprofit organizations in the country do not have dedicated prospect research staff. So how can you still leverage prospect research to raise more money?

The biggest hurdle is recognizing that prospect research can be accomplished by everyone in your organization. Here are three shortcuts any fundraiser can implement to begin using prospect research techniques to boost giving:

(1)    Identify people with linkage, ability and inclination

Everyone in your organization can identify people who are connected in some way to you, appear to have some money to give away and, if not outright passionate about your mission, are likely to be philanthropic. Have a team meeting and educate everyone in your organization about what a good prospect looks and sounds like. Arm them with the kinds of easy conversational questions that will help qualify a good donor prospect. Then listen when they tell you about people and share the outcome with them.

(2)    Get to know the people closest to your organization

From the gift entry clerk who starts her call to a donor with “thank you” before asking her question, to the janitor who gives people directions on the campus, to the president who meets with local companies – everyone in your organization has a chance to treat your constituents as the friends and family they are. As the fundraiser, you need to ask staff about people frequently and listen and record what they say.

(3)    Decide on a tracking system and stick to it!

Working with the people in your office who understand your database best (which could also be the vendor), decide what you want to keep track of and the best way to do it. Then make sure everyone entering data does it the same way so you can pull accurate reports. For more ideas, read Three Simple Steps to a Prospect Management System.

At first it may seem like a lot of work to involve other staff members in identifying and cultivating your constituents, but once you learn to balance all of the chance meetings you have with staff with a few added formal encounters, you might find that you will gather more face-to-face intelligence with donor prospects than you ever could have accomplished on your own.

It takes time to implement anything new, but with all this information being gathered you will soon be in the enviable position of prioritizing well-informed prospect lists!

Still need help identifying prospects? Are you lost in your database full of donor records? Need deep research before a solicitation? Call Aspire Research Group at (727) 231-0516. We can help.

3 Steps to Major Gift Mojo!

Not infrequently fundraisers want to talk to me about finding major gift prospects who are outside of the donor database. Often they have been asking the same group of donors and need to expand their reach.

Too frequently I find out that they have not screened or mined their own donor database for good prospects! Screenings come with a price tag that can be hefty for some and getting management to invest often requires some educated persuasion.

Consider the following plan for jump-starting your fundraising confidence and creating results you can demonstrate to management.

Phase One

  • Pull a list of your top lifetime donors and start calling and visiting to thank them
    • They will be mucho flattered because many will not be wealthy and the lifetime giving will be a significant number. They all make great planned giving prospects
  • Pull a list of your one or two-year lapsed donors by lifetime giving and largest gift
    • Schedule visits with any excuse: wanted to recognize your lifetime contributions with a chatke; wanted you to meet our new CEO; wanted to thank you and tell you about new initiatives you made possible.
  • Consider asking your gift entry/database administrator to make some thank you calls to top-end annual fund donors
    • Pick a list of people similar to your employee to make it easy to relate
    • Already too busy? Make one phone call a day
    • Success in a new task is invigorating! Expect your employee grow

Phase Two

Do not just pull lists…

Pick a concrete time-period – say three months – and blitz call and visit. Every. Single. Day. Especially if you haven’t done much visiting in the past! You will have friendly, feel-good visits that will build your confidence and reward your donors with the stewardship they so deserve. Any excuse for calling will do, but sincerely thanking, recognizing and telling them what their gifts have accomplished is numero uno.

Phase Three

After the designated time period, stop and evaluate. This is important. You will be amazed what your donors tell you and you will be better able to strategize your future efforts. This is where you begin rating which prospects are likely to make major gifts and you will now know how to better recognize them in your database. Check out the Aspire Research Group paper on creating a moves management system.

Looking for customized help with your donor lists? Contact Aspire Research Group today!

Work smarter, not harder. Because you’ll have your major gift mojo of course!

An easy-to-use, kickbutt cultivation strategy tool

I usually attract two types of clients: those that want to identify major gift prospects and those that want research on identified prospects. No matter which service I provide, sometimes my clients get stalled on the next steps. You might have the donor prospect right there in front of you, but over time the path to a gift gets as lost as Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs in the forest of development activities.

Prospect research consultants (including me) often talk about moves management or relationship management systems. These are powerful tools capable of catapulting your major giving to a new level. But there is another tool you can easily customize that gives you a laser-like focus on one donor prospect at a time. Just like the one you have in front of you right now. 

Creating a Cultivation Strategy document is easier than you might think. This document should highlight key considerations such as capacity to make a gift, when you expect to ask for a gift (average is 18 months out), primary giving motivations and other vital pieces of information. But the true beauty of a Cultivation Strategy document is the action steps section.

Using everything you know about the donor prospect you have to sketch out the actions and completion dates that take you to the day you solicit the gift (just like a roadmap). If you have just identified a prospect these actions might be vague and the dates might just have the month. In the worksheet I created  each action requires you to list the objectives. Those objectives are the lasers!

When you sketch out your actions for the first time you will immediately recognize just how short the time really is between your start date and your solicitation date. Yikes! Knowing the objective, the outcome you desire from each action, ensures you stay on track. No meandering. None of the “let’s just pick another prospect” because you dropped the ball on the first one.

At Aspire Research Group we want you to close more major gifts. Gifts reward your donors, the people you serve and you. Call or email us today to find out how we can help you close more major gifts.

Capacity and Ask Amount – Magic Numbers!

In the “On Fundraising hosted by AFP” LinkedIn group, a fundraiser was asked by her board to assess the capacity of other board members and she was looking for a formula or strategy that has worked for others. The conversation that ensued fascinated and delighted me. I sent her to my free worksheet on capacity ratings, but the different approaches and opinions in response to her question are well worth discussing.

There were two basic paths that diverged from the “simple” question of assessing capacity. The first had to do with what stage the prospects were in. Was she identifying, qualifying, or ready to solicit and was it a first gift, second gift or big-hairy-scary gift? The second was whether she was also considering affinity, or how close the prospect felt to the organization, and inclination, whether the person liked to give gifts to nonprofits generally. Lots of good comments and advice on these aspects.

Prospect researchers often tie these two pieces of prospect assessment into a prospect tracking or moves management system. And although she was not asking about anything other than capacity, readiness to give and likelihood of giving matter (dare I say) much more than capacity. I’ve known nonprofit employees who give big gifts on modest salaries. The prospect’s passion matters!

And then there was some confusion and some clarifications on what does capacity mean when used in fundraising? Similar to one of the comments posted, Aspire Research Group uses the following language in its profiles when providing capacity ratings:

  • This rating is a major gift dollar range for a gift over 5 years if only one gift was made. It is strictly based on wealth indicators and not on affinity or inclination. The capacity rating suggests ability to give without considering unknown liabilities and is NOT a solicitation amount.

The overall consensus was that determining capacity (and ask amount too) is a mix of art and science. Prospect research can’t uncover every asset and liability so assessing capacity turns out to be an informed guess.

If the question was about determining the ask amount and not capacity, I’ve got strong feelings on that. Unless you are so close to your prospect that s/he opens up his/her finances to you, not having in-depth research done on your prospect is a costly mistake. If you ask for too much you can probably flatter your prospect, but if you ask for too little you won’t hear a prospect say, “Oh gee, and here I was ready to give you $5 million – I’m so glad you only need $1 million.”

Yes, capacity matters in major gift fundraising. Yes, your prospect can have more money than god and refuse to give you any. And yes, determining capacity and ask amounts involves some art and science.

But the exciting part of this particular LinkedIn group discussion was hearing from fundraisers who, with or without dedicated prospect research staff, give their prospects the respect they deserve by taking time to know them in-person and through tried-and-true prospect research techniques. Cheers!

So how do you determine the magic numbers of capacity and ask amount? Do you give more weight to affinity and inclination to give or more weight to capacity or ability to give? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Defining an ACTION in Moves Management

I have been gathering and synthesizing all the materials and resources I have collected on moves management as part of my work creating a “simple” moves management process for a client. (Somehow “simple” always means so much more effort!)

Today I dug out some handwritten notes I took during Lisa Howley’s presentation at the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference in Baltimore this year.

Here is the definition of an action that she gave:

  • Outcomes met the purpose
  • Advanced the prospect relationship
  • Something new was learned
  • Contact resulted in a next step

Because gift officers’ performance is frequently judged at least partly by the number of actions they have with their prospects, defining an action is tricky business. The subject comes up on PRSPCT-L, the prospect research list-serv hosted by APRA because prospect researchers often oversee moves management.

Does your definition of an action differ from what is listed above? Am I missing something? I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Moves Management = Money

In the business world it’s called Customer Relationship Management or CRM. In fundraising we usually call it moves management or prospect tracking. Whatever we name our system, we use it to keep our prospects on track to a gift and to steward our donors to keep giving.

In larger shops there are prospect research positions devoted to the data maintenance involved in moves management. Small shops do not have the luxury of prospect research staff, but have the same need to bring in gifts. I have a free publication on my website that describes in some detail how to build a moves management system.

So I thought I would use this space to share with you great solutions that some small and mid-size development shops are using successfully.

  • A woman at the Planet Philanthropy conference in Boca Raton, Florida, described how she exports her top prospects to a spreadsheet. Because she does not have the time or staff to input all of the data into her database, she tracks her progress in Excel. Gifts and significant pieces of information go in the database, but the tracking does not.
  • Another person I spoke to uses the free individual version of Salesforce.com because her donor database does not have a function to track actions taken with a prospect. This online software allows her to get reminders and document the contacts she has made with prospects and donors. It even has a tracking mechanism she uses to print reports on just her proposals and solicitations.
  • More than one fundraiser I have spoken to uses Outlook to manage top prospects and donors. By making notes in the address book and marking actions to be taken on the calendar, people have been crafting their own methods of tracking. Whatever works to keep you in contact with your prospects!
  • And for those very special donors and prospects, people do all sorts of things to keep them on their minds. A post-it note on the computer as a daily reminder is my favorite.
Creating a moves management system that uses the full potential of your donor database is the most effective and efficient way to go, but there are alternatives when database functionality is limited. Aspire Research Group helps organizations create custom moves management systems that work for you, your organization and most importantly, your donors. If you have questions about creating a moves management system, call us at (727) 231-0516.

Whether you have 10 top prospects or 110, if you stay in touch with them consistently the gifts will arrive. So get moving!