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How to Use Moves Management to Increase Fundraising

Want to improve your fundraising? Nonprofit fundraisers are always looking for ways to attract new donors, increase the gift sizes of current donors, and improve the number of donors who give each year. Moves management is a system that streamlines the fundraising process in order to engage new and renewing donors in a meaningful way and generate increased revenue.

What is moves management? It’s a systematic donor cultivation process that helps you create a fundraising plan that is donor-centric, sustainable, and effective. Implementing moves management as a system helps you move donors from the initial stages of interest (when they’ve just learned about your organization) to engage major donors who give significantly each year. The moves management system—which can be thought of simply as a sales cycle for donors—allows you to put in place a replicable process that streamlines fundraising efforts.

What is Moves Management?

The idea behind moves management is a simple one: all fundraising activities focus on ensuring donors have meaningful experiences with your organization, and those experiences, or “moves” allow them to become more engaged. The cycle begins the first time a constituent is introduced to your organization and allows you as a fundraiser to strategically move them from interested prospective donor to invested stakeholder.
Moves Management

Typically, moves management is divided into five stages:

  • Identify: an individual is identified as a potential donor through prospect research, introductions from board members and volunteers, or because they’ve given a small amount in the past.
  • Qualify: It’s important to make sure that an identified donor prospect has the capacity, interest, and connection to become a donor to your organization. To qualify a donor, take into consideration how much they give to other organizations, their interest in your work, and any connection they have to your organization.
  • Cultivate: Cultivating a donor is one of the most important parts of a successful moves management system! Regular planned outreach allows donors to pursue their interest with your organization and gives you the opportunity to forge a strong relationship with them.
  • Solicit: It’s imperative to plan when and how a donor will be asked for a gift, and to ensure that they move from “cultivate” to “solicit!” For every donor in your moves management system you should know how much you are asking them for, and when you will make the ask. Perhaps some donors will receive an annual appeal letter while other donors will be asked in person.
  • Stewardship: The moves management process does not end when a donor is asked. The stewardship phase allows you to thank them for their investment and –just as important–to report back on the impact it had on your organization. Once a donor has made a donation, spend the next year stewarding them, until it is time for another solicitation.

Implementing Moves Management

If you have never used moves management before, the first step in implementing the process is getting organized.

  • Use your database to code and track each constituent and where they are in the moves management cycle, from identification to stewardship, upgrading or disqualifying them as necessary. (You may find that some donors, after qualifying them, aren’t such a good fit after all! Don’t spend any more effort on them — simply mark them as disqualified and focus on other prospects.)
  • Focus on the top 20% of donors. It is likely that your entire database of donors and constituents will not be successfully upgraded to a major gift. Use the moves management system to make sure that lower-level donors are solicited and stewarded appropriately, and then look at those donors who make the most significant gifts. Often the top 20% of donors are responsible for 80% of revenue. These are the donors that should make up the bulk of your moves management focus.
  • Create a calendar of cultivation moves. Your annual appeal letter, weekly or monthly newsletters, and annual report may go on this list, along with volunteer opportunities and invitations to fundraising events. Also include personal outreach such as handwritten thank you letters, phone calls, and coffee or dinner dates. Each donor will have different moves and an unique strategy.
  • Be consistent in your moves management processes. Use your database to generate a portfolio of each donor and their moves status, and sit down weekly or monthly with your team, Executive Director, or Board Directors and review each constituent and what the plan is for moving them to the next level. This consistent strategy makes donors feel connected to the organization and brings you closer to obtaining their gift.

Success with Moves Management

Implementing a moves management system may feel cumbersome to begin, but it should ultimately be a fairly organic experience that allows you to give each individual donor a personalized experience, leading to larger gifts and a more robust donor base.

You likely have donors in your database with the capacity and interest to give significantly more. Starting your moves management by researching your donor base and creating a portfolio of 25 to 50 prospects, and then planning tactical outreach for each donor will not just ensure that donors are engaged. This process will allow you to get valuable input from donors, grow your revenue, and make sure that you are not leaving money on the table.


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