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Best Ways to Manage Your Donor Prospect List

Prospective donors can and should be a diverse pool of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Since 1956, Giving USA’s annual report tells us that individual donors are the backbone of all philanthropic support.


Whether you are a small or large nonprofit, having a clear and strategic plan to engage all your donors and prospects is crucial. A plan will keep you on track and help you reach your goals of donor engagement and dollars raised.


The beginning of the fiscal year is a good time to analyze and segment your donor database. With this information you will be better able to adjust donor portfolios. Whether you’re a shop of one or a team of fundraisers, everyone should have a portfolio of donors and prospects that are their responsibility to cultivate, solicit, and steward.


One of the first questions I often get is how many donors and prospective donors should be in your portfolio? The answer depends on several factors.


  • A Major Gifts Officer whose sole job is to fundraise can have a portfolio of 100-150 individuals.

  • A Chief Development Officer or Director of Development who has other responsibilities can have half as man; 50-75 individuals.

  • The Executive Director/CEO can have 10-50 individuals or maybe just the board of directors.


The size of portfolios depends on the number of qualified donors and prospects in the database and the capacity of the fundraising team. In addition to individual donors and prospects, there may be a fundraiser who focuses only on foundations and another whose focus is corporate support.


Here are some “To Do’s” that will help you successfully manage your portfolio and raise money.

  • Segment or “tier” your donors and prospects.

    • The top 10-15% who have given the largest gifts = 50% of your time.

    • The next 40-50% who have given major gifts = 30% of your time.

    • The second half who have the capacity to upgrade their gift = 20% of your time.

  • Use Moves Management to set goals for each donor, “moving” a donor from one giving level to the next higher one. What are the actions or touches you will use throughout the year to bring each donor closer to your mission?

  • Block time on your calendar for focused work. This will not only help you, but it will also let your colleagues know when you are not available.

  • Keep a dashboard to track your actions. This may be available with your CRM. Documentation is critical to building authentic relationships with your donors and prospective donors.


Understanding who is in your portfolio and at what stage of the funding cycle they are will save you time and angst as you cultivate, solicit, and steward your grateful donors and new prospects.



Michelle Crim, CFRE


Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.


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