How Would You Rate Your Prospect Management System?| Part 3

Referring back to my previous blog in July, I am completing a series that outlines the various levels of prospect management we encounter with our clients.

  • In Part I, I covered rating choice “Level 1,” and how this signifies that an organization does not have a formalized prospect management system in place.
  • In Part 2, I covered rating choice “Level 2” and included tips on what data to start tracking in your CRM system (or spreadsheets) to create a central repository of your activity with your major and planned gift prospect pool. I also provided instruction on setting up prospect review meetings to discuss status.

Today, we’ll dive into “Level 3:  Mechanics of program in place (assignments, actions). (50-75% adoption).”

Below I stress the importance of top-down buy-in from senior leadership is during this phase as well as properly training all relevant development staff and conducting a systematic roll-out of your prospect management.

Senior-Level Buy-In:

If your development leadership is raising money for your campaign or major gifts program, then they need to understand as well as champion and communicate effectively to your development team the need for and benefits of a system to manage your major gift/campaign prospect pool.  He/she will also be responsible for ensuring data on their prospects are properly entered into the system in a timely fashion as to set an example for the rest of the staff.  I have heard from many clients over the years that they get to this stage in the game of prospect management, and then it vaporizes over time because of changes in leadership or simply getting the program off the ground never happens.  I also hear clients report that their program stagnates and never grows.  Staffing turnover is often to blame, but not always.  Commitment and follow-thru is instrumental to success with an endeavor such as this.

Proper Training:

Depending upon the role you play at your organization (prospect research/management, advancement/development services, development/gift officer, vice president for development/advancement, executive director, database manager, etc.), you will need to ensure all staff have the proper education and training on what is expected from each staff member and what data they will be responsible for entering and managing.  Be sure to the roll-out of your prospect management system includes a realistic timeline and implementation plan that includes items for completion with due dates.  If you purchase a module within your CRM system for prospect management, then make sure the software company offers training.  You may also need to supplement this training as you customize utilization of the module, particularly if you develop this module yourself.

Reporting and Statistics:

Also at this stage your staff will be meeting regularly for prospect review meetings with the appropriate development staff, and striving to do so, on a weekly, bi-weekly, or at the outset monthly basis.  For those in the quiet or public phase of a campaign, I recommend holding at least bi-weekly review meetings by where you discuss the status of each development officers’ portfolio of campaign prospects.  Please refer to my Part 3 July blog on some basic data your system should track and what your gift officers should report on during these meetings.

To truly move to a level of having the mechanics of the program in place and beyond, you should be reporting on sophisticated information and statistics to provide readily-available metrics at these prospect review meetings, whether they be group meetings or one-on-one reviews between managers and gift officers.  Tracking in your CRM system and thus reporting on these metrics will help you manage your major gifts program or campaign from a capacity and timeline perspective.

Below are some ideas and questions on what to measure at a deeper level within your prospect management system:

1. How many prospects are in each gift officer’s portfolio at the various stages such as identification, research (pre-qualification), assignment, gift officer qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship?What are the percentages of prospects at each stage?

  • Are they too heavy on the assignment stage and not qualifying assigned prospects in a timely manner?
  • Do they have prospects sitting for several months or even over a year in cultivation without a campaign/major gift proposal being presented for solicitation?
  • Is adequate follow-up being tracked and completed following a solicitation?
  • After the gift is made, are the proper stewardship steps and touches established and completed?

2. Does each gift officer have an adequate or overabundant portfolio of capable and inclined major gift prospects?

  • Do you need to make adjustments and redistribute some of your major gift prospects to create balanced prospect pools?
  •  Will you reach your projected campaign or major gift program goals with your current prospect case loads?
  • Are their prospects who merit additional leadership at your organization to help secure these larger gifts such as the President of the University, a board member, VP for Advancement, or Executive Director, and are you able to track this?

At this 3rd level of 50-75% adoption for your prospect management system, you may not be able to provide a deep analysis with crystal reports, but if you start tracking and reporting on data to uncover answers to the above-mentioned questions, then you will be well on your way to the 4th level of prospect management efficiency and adoption, “Well-oiled machine: All systems in place with nearly 100% adoption.”

In my next blog I will discuss how you can continuously improve your prospect management system by building reports that provide the type of deep and meaningful analysis that will help your organization see patterns develop and recognize the challenges and opportunities that are presented as a result.