[APRA-NW] RE: Virtual Roundtable for January: Relationship Management

Cecilia A Hogan chogan at pugetsound.edu
Wed Jan 8 14:25:33 PST 2014

Hello Researchers,

We are doing things a bit differently. We are a small, private liberal arts college with six frontline fundraisers, their boss, and a vice president and a president interacting with prospects. I call this the equivalent of about 7.5 or eight fundraisers. No one else has major gift (people) prospect assignments. Our CFR office has one fundraiser/grantwriter with an assistant and she has a portfolio of corporate and foundation prospects. We are her supporters in that we help prepare our president and vice president for encounters with CFR prospects and we have helped design several of CFR's data mining and coding tools, but that's about it. So, all of this is about people prospects (who are almost exclusively alumni or parents of current students or alumni, with a few "friends" sprinkled in).

Portfolios and how they are populated: All prospects are qualified and assigned by the Research office. There are no qualified prospects who are not assigned (no "draw from" pool) and no prospects who are assigned from some other direction. Research is the only entity to determine philanthropic capacity and no one can be a prospect without a capacity rating, so there you go. (We love the recommendations we get from our team members and we're happy to explore those, of course, but we make the final decision about assignments.)

Our fundraisers have portfolios that include about one-half "local" prospects (the I-5 corridor, from Bellingham to Centralia) and one-half regional prospects. They each are assigned regions (Southern California, Northern California, Colorado, Minnesota, East Coast/North, Hawaii, etc.). Prospects we identify in regions go to the fundraiser with that region. One of Research's responsibilities is to balance the portfolios in terms of philanthropic capacity, so we use the local prospects to do that. In other words, everyone has a similar composition of the very wealthiest prospects and a similar opportunity to secure gifts.

Our fundraisers do not have individual monetary goals, but they do have aggressive contact goals (150 contacts per year). We believe that, if you get in front of the prospects, you'll get gifts. We don't want our fundraisers to ever, ever have a moment where they don't have someone to call, so our portfolios are large (about 300 for the frontline fundraisers). We have lots of ways to segment the portfolios - by capacity, by assignment date, by giving history, by last contact, by cultivation stage (we have a pretty detailed set of those), by a fundraiser ranking system, any combo of these and other factors - so we are not compromised by large portfolios. One of my concerns as a researcher is that the next generation of big donors are getting into the cultivation stream and I find if we have arbitrary cut-offs by capacity, that won't happen. Additionally, we have a very aggressive parent prospect identification program, so a portion of each portfolio is current parents.

On that contact goals idea, we have strict rules about what counts as a contact (face-to-face, rarely a phone call or an encounter at an event) and, frankly, you'll get no credit for a contact for which a contact report isn't filed. So we have a great, strong culture of contact reports. That is one of the very best gifts to Research - the history of the relationships is well documented.

We are a culture that is sort of against quitting the rich people. We believe that someone has to either demonstrate no capacity or no affiliation to be dropped (this is about alumni only; parents are different). I like to say "too rich to quit." After all, the fundraiser's job is to change inclination. In the old days, we used to expect a cultivation and gift to occur within a time period. Now our thinking is that life brings lots of changes and we can stay in the game over longer periods of time with little detriment to our program. We have well developed ancillary programs - our annual giving program, alumni and parent relations work, and donor relations, all working from other angles to nurture engagement.

Updating portfolios: Not my job is what I'd say. The fundraisers and their boss are managing their portfolios, reviewing them for changes and such. Research might come across some information and suggest something in that regard, and we are periodically asked to help a fundraiser evaluate a portfolio. We also have a couple of sets of prospect strategy meetings that help in this regard. We respond to research requests and we have a couple of communication vehicles to put prospects with fresh news in front of the team. All that helps keep the portfolios steaming, I think.

Cecilia Hogan | Director
University Relations Research

1500 N. Warner St. #1085
Tacoma, WA 98416-1085
253.879.3469 | Twitter @CeciliaHogan

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From: apra-nw-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu [mailto:apra-nw-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Jessica S. Balsam
Sent: Wednesday, January 08, 2014 11:24 AM
To: apra-nw at u.washington.edu
Subject: [APRA-NW] Virtual Roundtable for January: Relationship Management

Hi everyone!

We're just a few days away from screening a Relationship Management webinar in Seattle<http://apra-nw.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1092815&eventId=817696&EventViewMode=EventDetails>; it will be shown in Corvallis<http://apra-nw.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1092815&eventId=817702&EventViewMode=EventDetails> on Monday and in Portland<http://apra-nw.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1092815&eventId=815088&EventViewMode=EventDetails> on February 10th. So let's chat about relationship management, shall we? I'll start us off with a few questions, but please jump in with your own. Don't forget to reply-all to the listserv.

Here's a few questions to get us started. Please share your answers to one or all!

1) What's the average portfolio size at your organization? Here at UW we made a major effort to reduce portfolio size and increase focus on higher-level prospects in summer 2011. Now that we're two years in, we have an average portfolio size of 150 prospects (our prospects are householded and grouped with their family foundations). If we take out all our assistant-level fundraisers (who are focused on lower-level gifts), the average drops to 110. I wish it were even lower, but it's a big improvement over the 200 and 300-prospect portfolios we used to have. And this leads into my next question...

2) How do fundraisers' portfolios get populated? Here at UW, we have a strong culture of letting the fundraiser choose who goes into their portfolio (and who comes out). This is one way we carry out our open cultivation policy, where any prospect can be cultivated by any fundraiser. So we have all sorts of methods to encourage them to focus on the best prospects. I can extrapolate if people are interested.

3) How do you keep portfolios up to date? Here at UW we meet quarterly with each fundraiser to go over their portfolio and proposals. A researcher and a relationship management person (both from our team) go to the fundraiser's office and meet with them for 30 minutes, collect updates, and then do the data entry or research when they get back to their desks. This is a major undertaking for our 150+ fundraisers; it takes about 5 weeks every quarter to get through all of them (with our staff of 4 FTE relationship management folks). But we find that it's a great chance for us to remind them about policies and tease out missing information that we wouldn't otherwise get. The fundraisers tell us that it's a super valuable reminder of where they need to focus in the coming quarter.

What else is bugging you about relationship management/prospect management/tracking or whatever you call it at your organization? How to track the performance of corporate/foundation fundraisers? Planned gifts? How to get people to file contact reports? Ask away!


Jessica Balsam, President, APRA-NW
Associate Director, Relationship Management
University of Washington Advancement

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