In a recent APRA Overdrive survey, prospect development professionals were asked to choose their greatest pain point from a list that included finding prospects, managing metrics, program investment, and other common areas of interest. “Keeping portfolios optimized” was found to be the most troublesome task by far.

In our now hundreds of pre-campaign analysis projects, we’ve consistently simulated ways to multiply gift production to achieve stretch goals. The consistent drivers were staffing ramp-ups, activity metrics, and portfolio optimization. In the vast majority of cases, portfolio optimization provides the biggest delta in rapid production increases.

It is a simple question of, “Are we seeing the best prospects?” So much energy goes into the “seeing,” but the “best prospects” portion of the question continues to be our main missed opportunity pain point. Portfolios tend to grow into unwieldy hordes of neglected names or become stagnate like ponds disconnected from moving water.

The reasons for the problem are multiple, but usually are predictable behavioral responses to imperfect metrics systems. For example, if the primary goal is total funds raised without advance solicitation limitations, it is in an officer’s best interest to have a very large portfolio of already proven donors. If the primary goal is simple visit metrics, why take on new names where call acceptance is so low? It is better to keep the names that continue to take visits. Systems measuring solicitations by level with portfolio penetration goals tend to have fewer of these problems.

Even assuming your metrics systems are now aligned to prevent path-of-least-resistant behaviors, you may feel like the portfolios are at a point of no return. Have faith my friend. There is a better way.

BWF has established a proven methodology to jump start healthy portfolio management. We’ve found the following steps to be the most effective path.
1Criteria. Establish a “strike zone” of capacity, propensity, and warmth thresholds where conversion by in-person interaction is at optimum yields.

2Report. Evaluate overall assigned pool and individual portfolios to classify segments to be retained, moved, warmed, or dropped.

3MGO Action. Guide major gift officers and decision-making prospect by prospect in a hands-on cleaning session.

4Evaluation. Determine available room for managing unassigned, potential prospects fitting the “strike zone” criteria.

5Refill. Assign these new potential prospects into portfolios.

6Repeat. Set a schedule of ongoing portfolio maintenance to develop consistent habits.
Contact BWF today to establish a sustainable program of portfolio maintenance. We look forward to partnering with you in bringing data science to the business of fundraising.

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