What is the difference between Prospects and a Qualified Caseload?

Qualifying an individual on to your caseload is a major commitment on your part.  I would think long and hard before doing this.

You may well have 15 – 30 prospects that have been researched and you are in the process of approaching.  Often organisations have ‘suspects’ they have identified on their database, then after ranking them will have a prospect list and a possible order showing the warmest at the top. This forms your prospect list.

As you approach your prospects and get closer to them you begin to understand their interests and motivations. You then decide who you will ‘qualify’.  You are looking for that person who wants to come on the journey with you.  This is a big decision because once they are qualified the commitment to stewarding this potential investor in your cause should look like this:

  • Monthly communication sometimes more
  • Regular travel time to their home or office
  • In-depth study of the research about them, memorising it before the meeting
  • Remembering every detail about their family
  • Engaging with their family, their pet, their hobby
  • Listening to every word spoken so you truly know them
  • Organising a visit to your office (I often call this a ‘Red Carpet Day’)
  • Introducing them to your Chief Executive and the Programme Director who will answer their detailed questions and speak about the vision
  • Facilitating the building of a relationship with your Directors
  • Listening to understand their values and trying to match their values with your organisation’s offering
  • Meeting their need to offer something valuable to the world
  • Answering their questions and objections
  • Enlightening their interest with specially written information and pictures
  • Choosing and showing video pieces that fit their interest
  • Communicating with them in their preferred way
  • Allowing them to journey with you at their pace
  • Preparing a 12 month plan of touch points including the Ask
  • Forecasting how much they might give and which month
  • Making the Ask (preferably a 3 – 5 year commitment) when you have demonstrated the need and when you believe the potential philanthropist is ready to give
  • Preparing a project proposal that fits their interest and passion and at the right price
  • Stewarding the donor showing the difference they have made through regular thanking and feedback
  • Continuing monthly contact after the gift has been made and building a further 12 month plan towards their second gift

This is a massive commitment on your part and therefore I would recommend that you only qualify someone who is financial capable.  You need to steward your time.  Working towards qualifying a caseload of 50 – 60 who are giving an annual gift in excess of £10,000 is what I would suggest you plan towards.

This might take three years to eventually qualify a caseload of 60 but it is so important to keep focused and not fill your qualified caseload with people who take a lot of your time but don’t gave at the right level.  If your caseload is populated with donors who can only give £5,000 you will find it hard to raise sufficient funds to give a healthy ROI.

The Major Gifts Executives that I am mentoring are often on the journey and at the end of their first two years in the role might have qualified 30 and be working on a list of prospects to find their further 20.

Once you have arrived at a caseload of 50 – 60 you are there.  Beyond this you are stretching your capacity and will not be able to steward your caseload sufficiently.  Some may fall away for various reasons and you are then in a position to look for new prospects to replace them.

I would suggest that once a Major Gifts Executive has a full caseload of 50 – 60, as an organisation you need to be looking to recruit the next Major Gifts Executive, preferably before they get to that point.

In summary, be very clear as to who are your prospects and who are your qualified caseload.  Don’t mix the two.

Please come back to me with any thoughts or questions……

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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