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Small Schools Can Have Manageable Prospect Pools Too

The Valuable Prospect That Slipped Through the Cracks  

Gift officers are being assigned portfolios with too many prospects in them. Is it possible that some of the most valuable donors in the portfolio were not visited simply because there was not enough time to do so?  

If you’re raising money using a small team, it’s tempting to increase the number of prospects your gift officers are responsible for. However, research from the Reeher community shows that gift officers visit an average of only 1/3 of their portfolio each year. This means that a substantial number of known prospects slip through the cracks.  

Seeing Results with a Smaller Portfolio  

Advancement teams nationwide agree the standard portfolio size should be around 150 prospects. However, Reeher has found that the average portfolio is 30% larger than this standard.  

Because they are so large, these portfolios naturally contain a range of donors who may be more or less important to the institution. It’s very possible that an officer who has no expectation of visiting their entire list by year’s end will inadvertently miss some of the list’s strongest donors. Creating smaller, carefully tailored portfolios will focus officers’ attentions on the strongest prospects and increase the efficacy of their visits.  

Focusing Officer Efforts on Your Pipeline Donors  

Officers need these approachable workloads in order to maximize their time and achieve their goals. We recommend using donor groups and metrics such as Reeher’s Expected Value Index (EVI) and Probability to Donate Index (PDI) to help you decide how to prioritize your donors.   

Your strategically smaller portfolios should be designed to prioritize prospects with a true and immediate potential for giving. These donors have high EVI and high PDI numbers. During a portfolio reorganization it often makes sense to renew your focus on pipeline donors – these folks have the means and the affinity with your institution to make a major gift, but have not yet done so. While you don’t need to forget them, evergreen donors who are known friends may not need as much contact as they’ve previously received. Stay in touch via inexpensive methods and save your officer visits for forging connections that will offer the best new return on investment.  

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