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Donor Pipeline and Portfolios

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It would be great if you had the staff and budget to engage and cultivate all of your donors. While you put your resources into growing your donor base, retaining donors, and elevating their giving, you must also pay special attention to your most valuable donors and stakeholders.

Donor Pipeline

First, identify which donors should receive your lavish attention. Build your pipeline of these donors using criteria that will vary from organization to organization. Foundational criteria, however, should include donor loyalty, total giving, average gift, philanthropic capacity, ability to make a single “large” gift, and engagement with your organization’s activities. Then review this list of names with board members, program staff, and other volunteers and stakeholders to find relationship links to the donors in your pipeline. This is an ongoing process as you add new donors to your pipeline.


Gaining access to your donors is the hardest part of the job, so work with the stakeholder relationship links for introductions and to set up meetings. Since your donor pipeline contains too many people for one advancement officer to effectively engage and cultivate, break down the pipeline into portfolios of 30-40 donors to be the responsibility of the advancement officers on your team and portfolios of 5-10 donors for volunteers and senior executives. Many tools are available to manage portfolio relationships and evaluate performance, and Copley Raff uses one of the best with our partner organizations.

Work It

The first real test is getting that first meeting. Even if you are acquainted with the donor, you need to have a structured discovery visit to set the table for and help you devise a donor engagement strategy. This is addressed in the next post in this series.

Related Posts

●     Justifying the Hire of Another Gift Officer

●     The REAL Value of Direct Mail

●     Donor Portfolio Definition – Little Consistency But Important to Get Right