My next task is to get rid of this huge cd rack that has been sitting in the corner of my living room since cds were a thing. There must be at least 750 cds on this rack, which is just one part of the problem.
- There are too many of them
- We haven’t played any of them in years (some of them never)
- Since computers don’t have cd drives in them anymore, I have nothing to convert them with
- We have a sentimental attachment to them
- Someday they may be worth a lot of money (but seriously, probably not)
- They’re taking up room we could be using for a desperately-needed additional seat
As I was standing there staring at it last evening, it occurred to me that our cd rack is a metaphor for many under-performing major donor prospect portfolios.
- Most portfolios have too many prospects in them
- We haven’t connected with some of those prospects in years (or ever)
- We don’t have enough time or fundraisers to help convert many of those prospects into donors
- We have a sentimental attachment to these prospects
- Someday they may give us a large gift (but seriously, probably not)
- Prospects that are never going to give (or won’t give anytime soon) are taking up the place for new prospects with higher capacity, interest, and likelihood to give.
So what to do? Well, it’s time for some spring cleaning, isn’t it?
I’m no Marie Kondo, but I do like to keep things simple if I’m going to get some tidying accomplished. When trimming portfolios, I put prospects into three categories: A, B, and C.
- A – the keepers. They’re definitely or probably going to give in the next year-to-18 months.
- B – prospects for reassessment. If you don’t have a prospect management director, ask your research team or your research consultant to give you a candid, unsentimental, strategic assessment. You probably don’t need heavy-duty research. The goal should be a simple “Keep in portfolio, they’re an A” or “Move elsewhere, they’re a C.”
- C – these are the ones to remove. The folks who may be lovely to have lunch with but who will never make a major gift. Move them out of your portfolio to your colleagues in stewardship, annual fund, gift planning, or whatever other department/section that makes the most sense (if your organization is large enough to have them).
But whether your development shop is large or just you, it doesn’t matter – prospects that will never donate at a major gift level should be moved out of your major gift portfolio.
The goal should be to get rid of every prospect that isn’t going to move forward in the 0-24 months. I know – it’s really hard. You’ve become attached to people you’ve formed good relationships with, but when you do this you’ve moved them to a better place for them, for your nonprofit, and for your performance goals.
Once you’re finished you’ll have room for all of those new prospects that your research team or research consultant have found for you that they’ve been excited to move into your portfolio.
Which is great, right?
Say, now that we’ve cleaned out your portfolios, can I get some help schlepping these cds to donate to the library?