For development officers working on a major gifts program, it’s important to have a manageable caseload. But what does that mean, exactly? How many major donors should you have in your caseload in order to sustain a successful major gifts program?
The answer, of course, is not cut and dry. It depends on a number of factors, including the size of your organization, the complexity of your ask, the average gift size, and the amount of time you are able to devote to each donor.
However, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend having a caseload of no more than 100 major donor prospects. This gives you enough prospects to cultivate relationships with without spreading yourself too thin. Plus, it’s research-backed; a study by Penelope Burk found that fundraising programs see the greatest success when fundraisers have a caseload of 100 or fewer prospects.
Of course, if you’re working at a large organization or your average gift size is very high, you may need to adjust your caseload accordingly.
Working Your Caseload
Once you’ve determined how many major donor prospects you can have in your caseload, it’s time to start building relationships. The key to success with major donor cultivation is personalization. You need to get to know each donor as an individual and tailor your asks—and even your communications—to their specific interests and needs.
That means taking the time to have one-on-one conversations (preferably in person), getting feedback from them about your organization’s work, and making sure they feel like they are part of something larger. The goal is to develop a true partnership where both parties feel invested in each other’s success.
Donor stewardship is also crucial to success with major donors. You need to keep them updated on the impact their gifts are having and show them how their support is making a difference. This could be in the form of stories about the people your organization has helped, data about the results you’ve achieved, or anything else that helps them see the tangible impact their support is having.
A well-run major gifts program is crucial to the success of any non-profit organization. And at the heart of any successful major gifts program is a fundraiser with a manageable caseload—one that allows them to cultivate strong relationships with each donor. So how many major donors should you have in your caseload? As a general rule of thumb, we recommend no more than 100. By keeping your caseload manageable, you can ensure that each donor feels valued and appreciated—key ingredients in any successful relationship.
How to Manage Your Major Donor Caseload
As a fundraiser, you know that cultivation and stewardship of your major donors is key to keeping them invested in your cause. But with a caseload of 100+ donors, it can be tough to give each one the attention they deserve. That’s why it’s important to have a system in place for managing your major donor caseload. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do just that.
1. Keep a Detailed Database
First and foremost, you need to have a detailed database of all your major donors. This should include information like their contact information, giving history, communication preferences, and any notes about personal interactions. Having this information at your fingertips will be crucial when it comes time to reach out and cultivate those relationships.
2. Set Up a Schedule
Once you have all your information gathered, it’s time to set up a schedule for interacting with your major donors. This can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins via phone, email, or social media. Whatever schedule you settle on, make sure you stick to it! Consistency is key when building relationships.
As with any job, time management is critical to success as a major donor representative. You need to be able to prioritize your time effectively in order to get the most important tasks done first. A good way to do this is by keeping a list of things that need to be done each day and then prioritizing them based on urgency/importance. Additionally, make sure to block off time in your calendar for calls and meetings so that you can stay on top of things without getting too overwhelmed.
3. Personalize Your Approaches
One size does not fit all when it comes to donor stewardship. Just as you would tailor an ask to a specific donor based on their giving history and capacity, you should also tailor your communications and cultivation activities based on their interests and preferences. If you have a donor who loves attending events, make sure to invite them to any VIP events you may have coming up. If you have a donor who prefers more personal interaction, set up regular one-on-one phone calls or coffees. The bottom line is: get to know your donors and what makes them tick!
One of the most important aspects of being a successful major donor representative is maintaining open and clear lines of communication with your donors. First and foremost, this means promptly responding to any and all questions or concerns that they may have. Secondly, it is important to keep donors updated on the latest happenings within the organization, including upcoming events, new programs, etc. The more informed your donors are about what is going on, the more likely they are to stay engaged with your organization. Lastly, proactively communicate any changes in their giving status or contact information so that there are no surprises down the road.
5. Goal Setting
In order for you and your team to be successful, you need to set clear goals and objectives. These goals should be SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive). By having well-defined goals, you will be able to track progress and adjust your strategies as needed in order to achieve them. Additionally, setting goals will help to keep you motivated and focused on what needs to be done.
Managing a caseload as a major donor representative can seem like a daunting task at first glance. However, by following these best practices—communication, time management, and goal setting—you can set yourself up for success. By staying organized and keeping your donors informed, you will be able build strong relationships that last for years to come.