With Worksheets and Suggestions for Cost Cutting that Will Better Support Fundraising
During the 2008 economic crash, my employer had to lay of 10% of the Advancement Office. We just had to. I had to choose to lay people off. It was miserable.
What it taught me, though, is that management is just as confused and frustrated as staff are when it comes to figuring out what budgets and whose jobs to cut. Of course, we are going to advocate for leaving Prospect Research intact because that is where we come from. However, you can back up these assertions for your own shop by using data. Let’s begin.
While driving home from Apra Prospect Development, I listened to this TED talk. The article brought my mind back to some work I’m doing on estimating the number of gift officers needed to meet a campaign goal. For analytics projects like this, I use the traditional prospect count – 150. However, I have wondered if that portfolio size is just an inherited paradigm. The TED podcast gave some insight by introducing me to Dunbar’s Number.
I have recently returned from an AFP Central New York luncheon, hearing a talk given by Bill Abrams (of Infinize), and my mind can’t stop spinning about what Bill said. Let me share with you a boiled down version of his message:
I interrupted Bill’s presentation to ask, “So, where will organizations’ major gifts prospects come from, then?” Bill answered that my local auto mechanic is much more likely to have as much income and wealth in the future as my banker does now – the Millionaire Next Door idea but cranked up several hundred RPMs.
And that’s when I started trembling, because now the number of prospects that my clients need to cultivate through personalized, special attention has gone from the top 5% of their constituency to – well – everyone. And I imagined major gifts programs melting down into a huge, stratified, boundless annual giving program.
This article shares my subsequent research along with some of Bill’s ideas to illustrate where this vision comes from.
This blog appeared in the APRA Upstate New York newsletter in the fall of 2009.
As fundraisers, we focus our resources on major gifts prospects. However, with Big Data bringing out a lot more information from social networking, we now see the value of using modeling and mining tools to help annual giving, membership, and events programs. Our recent conversations have centered on engagement – a rather nebulous term we use to try to understand what our donors feel about us before they give for the first time.