Should we rethink traditional moves management? – Part 3


After getting more clarity on how major gift officer and development directors should focus on the "contributor’s giving behavior rather than by the officer’s “getting” activities", in Part 2Ken and Ellen conclude the conversation with a short conversation about capital campaigns and how consultants can better serve their clients.



I get it! This makes a lot of sense. Now, as you know many Above Goal readers are nonprofits and consultants in the midst of capital campaigns.

The Donor Moves idea would seem to work well for capital campaigns and annual fundraising. What type of adjustments would need to made to apply this to a capital campaign?

Finally, many nonprofits retain consultants to provide strategic advice and to help them manage their opportunity pipeline for their campaign, do you have an opinion on how consultants can better serve their clients?




The Donor Moves model fits capital campaigns beautifully. There’s only one “adjustment” to be made, which is to make sure the campaign has well-documented, thorough ideal-donor profiles, validated by good prospect research. The profiles must include clear giving motivations and donor values, as well as explicit insights into capacity and giving history. Add the donor’s profile ranking (A to D) to the Donor Moves model, and you can cross-reference progress by donor rank. (PS, in capital campaigns virtually all activity should be conducted with the highest-ranked donors).

Otherwise, the model works beautifully. In fact, since many capital campaigns have a focus on current donors, the opportunity has already been qualified (Move 1) and shown interest (Move 2), so staff can “begin” working the opportunity ready to confirm Move 3: Consider Making Proposal.

Consultants will add more value to their clients by recommending this type of approach and guiding its implementation. Many consultants are already providing prospect research services and guidance, which is an enormous help; they can crank things up a notch as shown below.

Here are some ways consultants can add value and serve their clients better:

  • Guidance on ideal-donor profile. Go beyond prospect research in this profile, by adding donor motivations and values. These differ from giving history, showing the “why’s” of giving. Consultant guidance is valuable here, because it’s tough for the nonprofit’s staff to find out what’s going on in the donor’s mind. They may lack the objectivity to discover why their donors like them. In our practice we show our clients how to conduct a kind of qualitative market research with their best donors; consultants can easily do so or conduct such research on the client’s behalf.
  • Conducting or guiding prospect research. Prospect research services are paramount for capital campaigns, but not all nonprofits use them well, or even have access to them. Many consultants do this work already for their donors; they should certainly continue doing so.
  • Analyzing pipeline performance. Donor Moves pipelines “speak” to us about what’s going wrong, where things are slowing down, encountering bottlenecks and so on. These observations could be misinterpreted as failure, or, even worse, give rise to the blame game. Consultants are in a good position to use such insights as opportunities for improvement initiatives, and can even use some of the great methods available for improved problem identification and solving (like Root-Cause Analysis).
  • Identifying and resolving “ask reluctance.” Most capital campaigns involve board directors and other peer solicitors as volunteers, and sometimes these folks (also staff!) suffer from ask reluctance; they’re afraid to either start the conversation or pull the trigger and make the ask. Consultants make excellent coaches for overcoming ask reluctance, or avoiding it.
  • Establishing performance targets. Capital campaigns are driven by their fundraising goals. Obviously, if it’s going to cost ten million dollars (or shekels, euros, bitcoin, etc.), then we’ve got to raise ten million whatever-units. We consultants can help establish additional leading-indicator targets such as:
    • Size of pipeline needed to produce desired results.
    • Targets for number of times each Donor Move is reached, during the campaign overall and during each month or accounting period of the campaign. These insights really show whether your team is progressing as desired.
    • Conversion ratios, or how many at Donor Move X we want to convert to Donor Move Y.

When it comes to raising money, so much of what happens depends on circumstances outside of the control of the nonprofit. We can’t always predict if a particular donor will make a particular gift. But by concentrating on the front-end of the opportunity pipeline, then analyzing our team’s ability to put in enough qualified opportunities at the beginning and drive them through the process expeditiously, we can up our chances of success dramatically. Consultants can act as guides, providers of knowledge, business analysts and coaches, things we are already doing for our clients. If we also give our clients the kind of business “scaffolding” or framework I’m describing, then we can add a lot more value, which means our clients will have greater impact.

And so will we.




Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let's keep the conversation going in the comments section below.

A special thanks goes to Ellen Bristol of Bristol Strategy for graciously participating in this exchange. Your time and guidance are greatly appreciated!

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















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