Moves management systems allow non profits -regardless of their size- to achieve extraordinary results. I first started working for non profits in 2005 with a small organization that had only 6 employees. My office included a desk, a phone which was connected to the wall, a typewriter, and phone book. The way I learned to fund raise was to pick up the phone and call people to schedule face-to-face visits with them. At the time I didn't have a computer in my office so the way I kept track of my interactions was with a paper and pen.
What I have realized over the years is that an important part of fundraising is keeping track of your interactions with prospects through the entire donor cycle. This process is often referred to as "moves management."
Surprisingly, I find many non profits do not have a system for keeping track of their interactions. Here are 4 questions to consider (regardless of your size) when creating a "moves management" system for your non profit.
What is your ultimate goal?
This may seem obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I have talked with non profit leaders who either have an ambiguous goal or none at all. It's really hard to reach your destination if you don't know where you want to go. It reminds me of a quote from Alice in Wonderland:
"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
What are you going to track?
A great place to start is to make a list of the ways you are currently -or would like to in the future- communicate with your prospects. This should include both passive (one way communications) and active (two way communications). These are the steps or moves you will make with your prospect to reach your goal. Here are a few examples for you to consider:
- Face-to-Face Visits
- Phone Calls
- Newsletters (Printed and Electronic)
- Meeting with the CEO
- Program visits
There are some instances where the "moves management" plan may be similar for a group of people, but generally speaking each prospect should have an individualized plan based on the donor and what your ultimate goal is. ( For example, the process for recruiting a chair for your gala may involve only a few steps and take a few weeks, while the process to secure a major gift may included dozens of visits and a significant amount of time.
Who are you going to track?
Make a list of the prospects you are going to track for a specific project or period of time. Once you have a list of prospects, it is important to prioritize the list to identify which individuals you should focus your time and energy on. Here are three things to consider when prioritizing your prospects:
- What is their connection to the organization?
- What is their passion to the cause?
- What is their capacity to give?
How are you going to track the interactions?
A common mistake non profits make is not systematically interacting or tracking their interactions. As a result too much time and energy is spent ineffectively and minimal results are achieved.
A great place to consider tracking your interactions is in your donor management software. When you pull up a prospect in your system you can easily see a list of all of your interactions or "moves" with that individual so you can know quickly where you are in the cultivation process and what you need to do to reach your goal.
In the event your donor software isn't as user friendly as you would like, and this is not a simple option for you, all is not lost. While it is by no means ideal, I have seen several non profits use a simple excel sheet as a way to track their interactions with donors. The ultimate goal, regardless of how you track your "moves" is to be able to run a simple report which shows the status of each of your prospects.
One thing to consider when creating your moves management system is that the accuracy and effectiveness of the system will only be as good as the time and energy you put into making sure that the information you enter is timely and accurate.
A few more pieces of advice:
Sometimes fundraisers become so obsessed with data, systems, and reports that they forget the reason the information exists in the first place is to help match your donors passions with your organizations needs. Be careful not to get into the bad habit of categorizing people into groups based on certain criteria such as giving history or giving potential. ( I have had several experiences over the years where someone surprised the organization with a major gift they weren't expecting because they were relying too heavily upon data and not enough on the relationship the person had with the cause).