The Ideal Fundraising Portfolio Size and How to Clean Up Your Portfolio

Ideal Fundraising Portfolio Size

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing fundraising portfolios, what they are, and how a portfolio can help your fundraising team be successful. Today, we’ll go over an important question: what is the ideal fundraising portfolio size?

The truth is that no two nonprofits are exactly alike and the ideal size of your fundraising portfolio is dependent on many factors, so it depends! 

We’re going to go over the factors that determine portfolio size so you can decide on the ideal size for your nonprofit. And if your portfolio is too big there will be some helpful tips for shaving your portfolio down to the ideal size without sacrificing revenue. 

What Determines Ideal Fundraising Portfolio Size

Organization and fundraising team size

This is the most important factor that influences your ideal fundraising portfolio size. The number of donors a solo fundraiser (who may also be taking care of other revenue development activities like direct mail and events) can handle is very different from a team of three fundraisers dedicated to major gifts. 

One fundraiser should manage 100 to 150 major donors at most, and this is a fundraiser who is only supporting major gifts. If you have one staff member for all areas of your revenue development, including annual giving, the number of donors they can manage is much smaller. 

If you need to have a certain number of constituents in your fundraising portfolio to achieve your goals, you may need to consider growing your revenue development team to support that. 

Budget and revenue goals

The size of your fundraising portfolio needs to match your nonprofit’s budget and revenue goals. Take a look at your revenue goals and make sure the number of donors in your fundraising portfolio will help you achieve your target revenue. 

You can use a donor pyramid to help you understand how many donors you need at each giving level. At the bottom of your pyramid are the majority of your donors who are giving smaller gifts up to $150-$500 – depending on your nonprofit’s size – followed by your mid-level donors, and then your major donors at the top. Or you can also use this fundraising gift range calculator by Sumac that will calculate your fundraising gift range for you. All you have to do is put in your target amount and the calculator does the rest – breaking down the gift amount, number of gifts and even the number of prospects required to achieve the target amount. 

Typically, 80% of a nonprofit’s revenue is coming from 20% of its donors who are at the top of the pyramid.

Type of Donors

The last factor you can use to determine your ideal fundraising portfolio size is the types of donors that you have. Different donor types can be solicited in different ways and some of these strategies can relieve pressure from your fundraisers to manage relationships. 

For example, mid-level donors can be managed with a blend of mass solicitation strategies like direct mail and personal touches like thank-you-calls or handwritten notes. Mid-level gifts are more transactional in nature than major gifts because the donation is often unrestricted and do not require proposals to make the ask. Having a shorter process and the ability for mass touch points using email and mail, allows a mid-level gift officer to manage a portfolio size of 200-300.

 Corporate partners or foundations often require more time on relationships.  Gifts are typically restricted to a project or fund, alongside additional reporting requirements making the relationship more important and less transactional. Your nonprofit’s relationship with these organizations is repeatable, but only if you are able to deliver on your promises when the gift was made.  Corporate and foundation donors have a similar time requirement to major donors and as such have portfolio sizes to match.

My Fundraising Portfolio is too big, now what? 

If you read the above and realized your fundraising portfolio is too big don’t panic just yet! There are some steps you can take to bring your portfolio down to an ideal size for your nonprofit and your role. It can be difficult to let go of donors and prospects. Why?  Because you know them, you like them and it can seem important to have a large portfolio to hit your goal but cleaning up your portfolio will only make your fundraising stronger.

Weeding out based on Recency, frequency, monetary (RFM) 

Weed out donors in your portfolio based on their giving history – have they given recently, do they give frequently and how much do they give.

Filter out donors from your portfolio who are long lapsed, are no longer giving at a mid-level or major gift level, or who are not giving frequently. Consider migrating these donors to annual donor-level solicitation. 

Wisely users can use its prediction engine to understand when and how much your prospect will next donate making it simple to spot donors in your portfolio that belong in your mass solicitation pool.

Define qualified prospects

A qualified prospect is someone who has the capacity to make a large donation and the right connection to your nonprofit mission. Just about every fundraiser has seen Jeff Bezos and  Oprah Winfrey on a prospect list.  We know they have the capacity but if they haven’t heard of you or are connected to their mission you are better served connecting with your donors and volunteers.

Take a look at your prospects and make sure that they are a good fit for your organization. Keep only the prospects that are likely to make a gift to your nonprofit. And the prospects who are accessible to your fundraising team. After all, Oprah may care about your cause, but you can’t just cold call her and expect an answer.

Review unassigned donors or prospects and assigned solicitors

One good way to clean up your fundraising portfolio is to look at any donors that aren’t advancing through your moves management pipeline. The goal is to find donors and connect them to your mission and while this may sound difficult, if the relationship isn’t advancing, remove them from your portfolio.

Removing from your portfolio any prospect that’s been in identify or qualify for more than 4 months can be a good way to reduce your portfolio size.  The same can be said for any donor that’s been in ‘cultivate’ or ‘solicit’ for more than 6 months. Using this as a guideline, review how long your prospects are sitting in stages and if your portfolio is too large move them back to your mass solicitation pool. 

Now that you know how to determine your ideal fundraising portfolio size, based on your nonprofit organization and fundraising team, you can begin creating a portfolio that will support your revenue goals. This includes strategic planning for different donor types. 

Coming up next on the #WiserWithWisely blog we’re going to cover the different donor types you might have in your nonprofit database and how they fit into your overall fundraising plan. 

Contact us today! Let us manage your fundraising portfolio for you 🙂

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