Should we rethink traditional moves management? – Part 2


In Part 1, Ken was left wondering about other fundraising streams that bring in a lot of revenue for many nonprofits (e.g. direct mail, special events). Can moves management help with fundraising from less relationship centered fundraising streams? Ken and Ellen continue the conversation below.


Hi Ellen-

Thanks for breaking down the idea of the Opportunity Pipeline and detaching it from Moves Management.

When I put myself in the shoes of a Development Director two questions come to mind:

1. Do opportunity stages work best if they are customized by revenue stream?

Below I created two sample opportunity pipelines for corporate sponsorships and grants. These steps reflect the process that a nonprofit might go through to get these types of donations. Once I did this, I noticed that the opportunity stages lined up pretty well with the moves management stages we started with. (e.g. Identification, Qualification, Cultivation, Solicitation, Stewardship).

Corporate Sponsorship

Step 1: Research

Step 2: Initial Meeting/Outreach

Step 3: Follow-up Meeting

Step 4: Proposal

Step 5: Decision


Step 1: Research

Step 2: Phone Call with Foundation

Step 3: LOI

Step 4: Full Proposal

Step 5: Presentation

Step 6: Decision

2. How do you apply this theory to revenue streams that are less relationship centered?

I find that nonprofits have a tough time planning their budgets because some streams of revenue feel out of their control. They say they are going to grow the 'unsolicited' stream by 5% and call it a day. So the idea of tracking and assessing these items in the manner you suggested might seem like climbing a mountain for some. Where do you even start?

Less Challenging to Apply Moves

Major Gifts


Planned Gifts

Corporate Sponsorships

More Challenging to Apply Moves

Direct Mail

Traditional Special Events (e.g. Galas/Golf)

Crowdsourced Events (e.g. Charity walks)

In-Kind Donations (e.g. car donations)


Hi Ken –

Ken, thanks for your notes and comments. These are great questions. You’ll be glad to know I did my best to think about this from the perspective of a Development Director, and also compared the DD’s job to my former positions as sales representative (development officer) and sales manager (development director), with the intention of improving productivity at both levels.

1. Should we customize opportunity stages by revenue stream?

The answer is no, as long as you define your opportunity stages, like we do, by the contributor’s giving behavior rather than by the officer’s “getting” activities. The examples you gave above are classic descriptions of officer activities. Think about the purpose of those activities; what are they supposed to persuade your prospect to do?

If you rely on officer activities, opportunity stages must be customized per revenue stream. But when you follow the contributor’s giving process, differences between funding streams are immaterial. Our stages, called Donor Moves, describe funder behavior, or rather the result sought at each stage. Here are the first five of our Donor Moves. Note the name of each move is short-hand for the prospect’s behavior:

Move 1: Why Give. Did the prospect give us enough insight into their capacity and motivations for us to decide they were worth pursuing? (To answer this question, our officer compares what’s been learned from the prospect to the nonprofit’s ideal-funder profile to see if it’s a close match.)

Move 2: Validates Offer. Did the prospect learn enough about us, what we do and how we do it, to decide we were worth further interest on their part? (Our officer learns how to listen for ‘giving signals’ and follows up with pertinent information.)

Move 3: Considers Proposal. Did the prospect indicate a willingness to accept a proposal? This can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the revenue stream, but the officer actually has to ask this question!

Move 4: Negotiates. Did the prospect review our proposal with us, discussing size, scope, terms, application, reporting, recognition, and so on? (Our officer has to schedule this review ahead of time, and make sure it happens.)

Move 5: Makes Contribution. Did the funder write a check, make a pledge, sign a contract, approve the grant?

There are also a few additional moves after Move 5 to ensure proper stewardship and raise the likelihood of retention and upgrading.

2. How do we apply this theory to revenue streams that are less relationship centered?

The Opportunity Pipeline is not an appropriate method for managing the performance of such revenue streams. It applies only to major opportunities. In the case of the “more challenging” fundraising mechanisms you mention, think of them as if they were “retail.” Retailers do a pretty good job of forecasting demand (and supply), and have done so for years by relying on a variety of marketing and sales analytics. For nonprofits, we can reduce the level of the challenge of retail-style fundraising by establishing useful performance indicators and targets. In keeping with our focus on productivity, we always recommend the use of leading AND trailing indicators here. Some examples:

  • Target for invited guests: XXX. Target for guests who attended: YYY.
  • Target for number of people who fill out a pledge card: XXX. Target for those who honor their pledge: YYY
  • Target for cost of event: XXX. Target for income after expenses: YYY.
  • Target for new participants invited: XXX. Target for new participants who attended. YYY



What about capital campaigns? How can consultants better serve their clients? The conversation concludes in PART 3.

Should we rethink traditional moves management? – Part 3

Ken Jones is a former fundraising consultant and co-founder of Above Goal, the only capital campaign management software for nonprofits and consultants.





Ellen Bristol, founder of the Bristol Strategy Group and co-author of “Fundraising the SMART Way: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity.”








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