Why Traditional Moves Management is Hurting Your Fundraising Efforts - Part 2 of the Revolutionizing Fundraising Series

• effective fundraising • fund development process • fund development plan • Fundraising the SMART Way • Nonprofit management • Nonprofit fundraising • donor management • donor relations • nonprofit consultant • Moves Management, • fundraisng management • Charity Development • charity management • fundraising programs
Ellen Bristol

What's missing in Moves Management? In most sales organizations, Moves Management would simply be called “Account Planning,” which is how big companies handle their major, national, or global accounts. 

Moves Management is Missing the Target - "Management"

This is the second article in our series on fundraising management. Last time, we talked about how Great Managers Do Nothing and the difference between “doing,” “managing,” and “leading.” Now I want to address the popular model Moves Management. Is it really “management”?

In most sales organizations, Moves Management would simply be called “Account Planning,” which is how big companies handle their major, national, or global accounts.

Account planning helps handle the long-term relationship with the larger client, making sure all the seller’s players (technical support, customer service, marketing, etc.) obtain repeat business and maintain favorable relations with the client’s team.

Moves Management was designed for the analogous nonprofit purpose, major gift work. Recently Greg Warner, CEO of MarketSmart, published an article on this concept that’s worth reading.

But I think Greg missed an important factor, which is the “management” part. Moves Management just plain ain’t management. It’s account planning.

So – What’s the Management Factor Anyway?

Wikipedia says:

Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it be a business, a not-for-profit organization, or government body. Management includes the activities of setting the strategy of an organization and coordinating the efforts of its employees (or of volunteers) to accomplish its objectives through the application of available resources, such as financialnaturaltechnological, and human resources.

Moves Management misses out on the three elements highlighted above, which are:

Setting the Strategy: strategic plans and development plans are ineffectual without specifics for achieving objectives. Setting the strategy means deciding where we’re going and how we’ll know we got there.

Here are a few fundraising “commandments”:

  • Thou Shalt ALWAYS Have an Up-to-Date Ideal Donor Profile.
    Why? So you don’t waste time and effort trying to get gifts out of prospects that are DOA, dead on arrival.

  • Thou Shalt ALWAYS Understand Your Mix of Funding Streams.
    Why? If too much of your money comes from too few sources, you’re vulnerable.

  • Thou Shalt ALWAYS Be Cognizant of the Size of Your Opportunity Pipeline.
    Why? Unless you have more POTENTIAL gifts than you need, it’s tough to reach fundraising goals. You’ll always lose some.

Accomplishing Objectives: An effective strategic plan has high-level goals describing desired outcomes. Objectives are how you achieve goals. Here are some examples.

  • Development Officers MUST Use their Donor Profiles to Justify Cultivating the Prospect. Why? Because it costs too much time, effort and money on prospects who aren’t interested and lack capacity. Obtain smaller gifts through lower cost means. Lacking interest AND capacity? Ignore them.

  • The Development Team Assesses Levels of Funding Diversification Regularly. Why? Because overreliance on few sources, makes you vulnerable as heck.  

  • Pay More Attention to the “Front End” of the Pipeline Than to the “Back End.” Why? If your potential income is big enough, you can afford to lose some opportunities. You can’t control the giver’s final decision, but you can control the “inputs” - opportunities identified and cultivated.

Application of Available Resources
Here’s where fundraising management really falls short. There’s a broad lack of key resources. Sure, you may have challenges finding enough money and staff to support optimal fundraising success, but what about key resources you’re not thinking about?

  • The Ideal-Funder Profile. Ideal funder profiles tell the development officer which prospects are worth investing in, and which are not. Gift capacity is much less ‘diagnostic’ than donor motivations; your best funders should match “motivation” criteria. Yet only 5% of nonprofits state they have such profiles.[1]

  • Mix of Funding Streams (Funding Diversification). Too many nonprofits rely on too few funders, like those traditionally funded by government grants or contracts. It costs nothing to decide on ideal funding proportions, and paying attention to progress is free.

  • The Opportunity Pipeline. It drives me nuts to see how few nonprofits employ basic opportunity pipelines, a universal practice among for-profit sales teams. About 67% of nonprofits that measure anything at all only measure how much money shows up. That’s a trailing indicator. It can’t tell you how much time, energy, and effort you might have wasted getting there. If you track your pipeline paying attention to the beginning of it, you can answer questions like these:
     -Is our pipeline large enough to tolerate the deals we’ll lose, and still reach goal?

     -When is our pipeline most likely to slow down, and where are we most likely to lose deals?

     -Are we asking for the gift soon enough, or letting it drag on forever without a yes or no?

Please note: no donor-management system I’ve reviewed contain these capabilities, which is why we’re working on integrating with the leading systems.

Whose Job Is Management Anyway?

Somebody has to develop strategies, objectives, and resources, right? But who?

Two answers:

  1. Management is a set of practices, not a bunch of titles or positions. Collaborate on developing the strategies, objectives and resources. This is especially important for smaller organizations or all volunteer ‘armies.’

  2. Leadership includes the CEO/ED, the board of directors, and other senior leaders. These folks are the ones who hold the staff accountable for activities and results. They can’t do so without providing the ‘resources’ and tools. Small organizations aren’t exempt; their leadership, board, and staff may all be the same people, so they have to manage themselves.

I would love your comments on fundraising management – or the lack of it – in your organization or the sector as a whole. Sharing your insights helps the entire community.

Ready to dive into predictable, consistent income growth for your Charity?


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[1] Data from Fundraising Down the Drain: The Leaky Bucket Study of Effective Fundraising 2017, out soon.

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