Lately I have seen some discussion groups, listservs, and blogs on when to create a proposal in the Prospect Module of Raiser’s Edge® or for that matter in any fundraising legacy system.  The timing or stage at which you create a proposal is truly up to each nonprofit organization.  So below I am listing typical stages and moments where you might consider utilizing the Prospect Module in RE for optimal reporting and management.  I also want to emphasize that as you read the information below, please note that the same process applies not only for tracking major/campaign gifts, but also planned gifts and even mid-level/transitional gifts if your organization is so inclined.

  • Identification
    • This can come from an internal database analysis, wealth screening, predictive modeling project, a peer/board review, or just plain discovery of a prospective donor from a staff or volunteer member
    • This is the preferred stage to create a proposal in Raiser’s Edge® by allowing your development operation to more accurately track the evolution of all identified gift opportunities, and by doing so, the timing on this can prove incredibly valuable to an organization that wishes to measure the success of the prospect management program or identify if adjustments are needed
    • Please note that Actions in RE work best if tied to the initial proposal that you create, plus now the staff person responsible for providing initial analysis of your identified prospect pool can see who is in the queue for the next stage, Pre-qualification
  • Pre-qualification
    • This is when someone at your organization does initial prospect research to uncover data and evidence that your prospect has the assets to support major gift capacity, as well as uncover business connections, career information, and any philanthropic donations or affiliations
    • Typically the type of data for pre-qualification is found during a brief review of wealth screening results
    • If you have not done so already, you should consider creating a proposal in order
      to track due dates for this initial prospect research, and this way you can
      also have accountability around completion dates for this stage
  • Assignment
    • This is when the prospective major gift donor is assigned to a prospect manager in Raiser’s Edge®, and this person will be managing the relationship with the prospect and manage the gift expectancy
    • Basically this is the latest stage at which I would create a proposal
  • Qualification/Disqualification
    • This is when the prospect manager/development officer contacts the prospect to see if a viable gift opportunity exists and the conversation will continue
    • Typically one disqualifies a prospect after 3 attempts within a specific period of time (i.e. 4 to 6 weeks)
    • Some clients have stated that this is the stage that they create a proposal in RE and up until this point they are using Actions to track their moves, but to really flesh out your prospect management system, I would again emphasize tracking the relationship from the Identification stage in order to create comprehensive metrics of the results for your major gift program
  • Cultivation
    • This is any activity that builds on the relationship with the prospect, creating forward momentum toward the gift expectancy
    • Typically clients make 2-5 visits as well as engagement activities such as events, personal letters, etc.,
    • Timing on this could be 3, 6, or 12 months, depending upon how the relationship is progressing, so it is best to provide realistic due dates with your Actions in RE, continually updating the date if necessary at this stage for more accurate forecasting
  • Solicitation
    • You are now at the stage where you are preparing the appropriate materials for the gift ask, such as a proposal
    • At this stage you should be able to provide a gift expectancy date that is fairly accurate, and update accordingly
  • Stewardship
    • Acknowledging and thanking the donor for the gift happens at this stage
    • Keeping in touch with the donor and tracking your Actions in RE will be pivotal to growing the relationship for the next major gift opportunity

Hopefully you’ll find a tidbit of advice on the appropriate timing for creating a proposal in RE (or any CRM system), and staging for consideration.  For a more comprehensive read on the subject of Prospect Management, please check out David Lamb’s white paper entitled, The Basics of Prospect Management: Using Prospect Intelligence™ to Achieve Fundraising Results.

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