Want to get more out of your pipeline?
Put more into it!
Is it really that simple?
Well, in theory it is. But actual fundraising is always harder.
So, how exactly are you going to do this? Or maybe the better question is when?
As any marketer will tell you, new customer acquisition is hard. And it’s “resource intensive” (i.e. expensive and time-consuming).
The same is true for major donors. It takes a while to get a new one. In fact, your best major gift prospects are always your previous major donors.
As a gift officer, it can be tempting to spend all your time with these folks.
And you could probably make a case for spending most of your time with them.
But it’s also important to spend some time developing new relationships and pursuing new major donors. You must feed your pipeline in an ongoing way. Nothing going into your pipeline means that, eventually, there will be nothing coming out.
You’re already thinking, Who has time?
Fair question. Two-part answer:
Principle #1: Systematize your outreach for prospect discovery and qualification.
Small shop with no time? Simplify. Get ruthlessly simple. Can you find an hour or two every week to focus on new relationships? I’ll bet you can. Now schedule it and protect it.
Principle #2: Separate the planning from the doing.
These activities use different parts of your brain. If you write “New Prospect Outreach” on your “to do” list, you’re doomed.
Instead, figure out who you’ll reach out to and when first. Do some planning.
And then, at a later time, actually do the outreach.
So, how does that play out practically?
Your Outreach Roadmap
I’m going to share with you what I like to call an Outreach Roadmap. It’s a simple system for staying on track with your new prospect outreach. When I used it as a 100% time gift officer, I consistently had more donor contacts than my colleagues. And this was at a large institution with hundreds of fundraisers.
And I use it today to keep me on track as I manage a team of 12 and juggle a whole host of other responsibilities.
As you can see though, the planning is very clearly separated from the actual outreach.Not rocket science, right?
“Visits?” What does that mean?
Yes, presumably you’re reaching out with the intention of meeting your prospects. The magic of major gift cultivation happens face-to-face.
One of the great things about this Roadmap is that it’s scalable. Your groups can be as large, or as small as you want. Figure out what makes sense for you.
When I was a 100% time gift officer, it was just me, myself, and my portfolio. I started with outreach groups in the 12-14 range because I had the bandwidth to do it.
If you have a million other responsibilities, your groups might be in the 4-6 range.
The point is, the group size, and group make-up is up to you. Regardless of how busy you are, I’m confident you can find time to reach out to at least three new prospects a week.
The key will be committing time to both outreach and planning ahead. Make all the decisions beforehand, so when you have a spare 20 minutes to write an outreach email, you already know who you’re going to write to.
What do you think? Sound reasonable?
Remember, if you don’t put anything into your major gifts pipeline, eventually there will be nothing coming out.
What are some of the challenges you face that can prevent you from feeding your pipeline?
I’m interested to hear about them as well as any tips or tricks you use to stay on track with outreach to new potential donors. So leave me a comment below.
If you want to take a deeper dive into the critical topic of prospect outreach, check out this post.
More to Come
We’ll be talking about how you can build and sustain a major gifts pipeline all week! In case you missed it, here’s a link to yesterday’s post which outlined 3 keys to a healthy major gifts pipeline.
The conversation continues tomorrow, and we’ll get even more tactical. I’m going to give you a simple technique you can use to get more meetings with more top prospects. So stick around!