Major Gifts Series #8: How to Use Moves Management To Raise Major Gifts This Year

Thanks so much for hanging with me these two weeks as I share some of my deep dark secrets about major gift fundraising.

We both know that major gifts are where the big funding really is.

It’s the most profitable place to spend your time and energy.

Moves Management – a Great Organizing Tool for Major Gift Fundraising

Today, I’m sharing the master organizing tool that makes major gift fundraising systematic and far more productive – Moves Management.

It’s a way to manage the somewhat fuzzy process of taking a prospective donor down the path of productive cultivation activities.

With each step in the process, you hope to increase your donor’s awareness, interest and commitment to your cause.

The goal of moves management is that your donor ultimately makes a major gift.

A “move” is a significant contact with your donor that builds up her loyalty and her engagement. So, each move is a cultivation activity that penetrates your donor’s busy mind.

Why would you use this system?

  • Because it helps you measure and manage what can be a nebulous process.
  • Because it’s donor-focused. Each donor gets his or her customized cultivation plan. It’s not one size fits all.
  • Because it defines and documents the current state of your donors’ relationships with you.

A moves management chart will let you see how many prospects are in what stage of cultivation, and how much money might be on the table at any one time.  That’s good stuff!

How I Used Moves Management to Raise $50 Million.

When I was the chief development officer at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, I had plenty of prospects.

We were calling on them, trying to qualify them and figure out who was really interested in making a gift.

But I was in a mess. I didn’t have a way to organize myself.

I’d find myself saying, I think it’s time to make a trip to New York City. Who should I be calling on there?

I didn’t quite know what to do with all these prospects. Much less how to keep track of everyone.

But one day I discovered Moves Management. Here’s what I did: (you can do this too.)

1. I rated my prospects.

First, I thoughtfully rated my prospects for Interest and Giving Capacity.

It took quite a bit of time to refine each individual’s rating – to get a pretty solid handle on where they stood and what their financial capacity might be.

2. I separated all my prospects into 4 groups:

Top 10 Prospects – These were individuals who were very close to making a gift. We were “readying them for a solicitation,” so to speak. They were our top priorities. And they were getting tons of attention.

Next 20 Prospects – Prospects who were very active and interested. They were almost ready for an ask, but not quite.

Next 30 Prospects – People who were showing a lot of interest, had solid potential – but still needed more time to bring them closer to the cause.

Backburner Prospects – People who I wanted to get to know. People who on the surface, seemed to have great promise. But we would need to gently bring them along. They were not yet fully qualified.

3. I set my priorities and made my plan

I planned to be in front of:

  • My Top 10 once a month.
  • My Next 20 every other month.
  • My Next 30 prospects once a quarter.
  • For my lovely backburner prospects, I decided to see them when I could. They were “fillers” when I was planning a trip.

4. I created cultivation moves.

For each of my Top 60 prospects, I defined a cultivation move that was unique to each individual.

5. I reviewed and reorganized my list monthly. 

What really made moves management work for me personally was this last step: I evaluated and reorganized my list every single month.

It was a big job to run through a detailed review of each prospect and where they stood. It usually took me about a half a day a month.

In addition, I thought up the next cultivation moves for many of my lovely prospective donors.

And I set next steps for each prospect.

What happened? Success!

I finally felt organized. I had my priorities and a plan. My system worked for me.

And I was successful. Our team raised $50 million from those terrific donors for a new business school building, the beautiful McColl Center at UNC-CH.

Later, when I walked into the building for the first time, I knew I had helped to create it. I even teared up – it was so personally moving.


You can raise this kind of money just like I did as a young fundraiser. And you can also feel your own work life transformed, just like I did.

Just get organized with a system.

This system will save your life, keep your organized and most of all, help you allocate your time to the right people!