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50 Ways to Use Abacus to
Improve Major Donor Fundraising

There are many surprising uses

Abacus Major Donor Calculator is a powerful, multipurpose tool that
Advancement offices can use in many ways to improve major donor fundraising.

Think of Abacus as the Swiss Army knife for development – with it, you can be resourceful and always prepared.

A tool that is worthy of the moment.


#1    Generate bold, yet respectful 3-year pledge Ask amounts that you can count on.

•   Abacus generates an Ask Amount using bias-free data. It provides an Ask amount that is aspirational and a Goal that you can expect so you don’t leave money on the table or offend a donor by asking for too much.

#2    Determine if and when you are ready to make an Ask.

•   Use the Ask Readiness Score to see if you have enough of the right donor information before having a gift discussion.


Gift Officers

#3    Train gift officers to make consistently bold yet respectful Asks and instill confidence going into and during gift conversations.

#4     Make Asks defendable to donors and management.

•   When donors ask how you arrived at the Ask amount, you will have a solid and defendable response.

#5    Accelerate new and inexperienced major gift officer acumen, workflow, and productivity.

Estate Gifts

#6    Determine whether to include an estate giving Ask during the gift discussion.

•   Each Ask calculation includes a recommendation on whether or not to ask a donor for an estate gift based on their life stage and financial situation.


Closing Gifts

#7    Provides the annual payment over three years based on the recommended Ask amount.

•      Sometimes, when you ask for a smaller annual amount to be paid over each of the next three years, the donor finds it more palatable.

#8    Provides the annual estimated after-tax payment over three years based on the recommended Ask amount.

•    If you think the donor itemizes charitable giving on their taxes, sharing the after-tax payment makes the ask more affordable.

#9    Tried and true strategies and language for making Asks and closing more gifts at higher amounts.

•   Many gift officers can benefit from learning very successful “Ask” language to further increase their confidence.

#10    Tips for closing a gift.

•    There are additional giving strategies you can offer the donor to help them agree to your Ask amount.

Donor Profile Library

#11    Provides an interactive library of all of your donor profiles.

•    You can search by donor and who created the profile.

#12    Add the status and outcome of a donor Ask for portfolio management and analytics.

•    We encourage users to document in the profile when the Ask has been made and the outcome.

#13    Download the library in detail for analytics.

•    You can download a CSV file from which all sorts of analytics are possible.



#14    Provides the most accurate predictive valuation of your major donor pipeline.

•    Using the Profile Library CSV export, you add up all the Goal (what to expect to get) amounts that have proven to be within 95% of actual pledges.

#15    Prioritize which donors are most ready to be asked for a gift.

•   When looking at your major donor pipeline or portfolio, the Abacus Readiness Score indicates who is the most ready for a gift discussion.

#16    Prioritize which donors should be added to a gift officer’s portfolio from the pipeline.

•    From the CSV export, determine the most “valuable” donors who are the most ready for a gift discussion, and be sure they are in a gift officer’s portfolio for follow-up.

#17    Do not have to rely on philanthropic capacity estimates’ variability.

•    You now have a tool that is far more accurate than these estimates, to use when approaching donors for a gift discussion.


#18   Provides the most accurate predictive valuation of your donor portfolio.

•    So far, the Abacus pledge Goal is within 5% of actual pledges, making it highly predictive of Ask outcomes.

#19    Prioritize which donors are most ready to be asked for a gift.

•    When looking at your portfolio, the Abacus Readiness Score indicates who is the most ready for a gift discussion and who needs more research and discovery.

#20     Identify what information you need to be ready to have a gift conversation.

•    You can review your responses on the donor profile and see what information is needed to fully prepared for a gift discussion.


Campaign Planning

#21    Determine pre-campaign donor readiness.

•    If you are thinking about having a campaign, first run Abacus profiles on your top 20 donors and see the average Readiness Score. This will indicate how much work is needed to be ready for a campaign.

#22    Profile your top 20+ campaign donor candidates to determine if there is sufficient support before undertaking a campaign feasibility study. This will save you time, money, and goodwill.

•    If you are thinking about having a campaign, first run Abacus profiles on your top 20 donors and add up the pledge Goal values to give you a sense of your ability to make your campaign goal.

#23    Identify the most promising donors to interview for campaign studies.

•    If you are conducting a campaign feasibility study with a consultant, run Abacus profiles on your top 50 donors to determine the best candidates to interview for the study.


#24    Data to easily analyze pledge/goal trends.

•   Managers will want to know if actual pledges are running above or below the expected goals. This will inform strategy for future Asks.

#25    Data to easily analyze progress against the pipeline’s valuation.

•  Managers will want to know at a glance the amount of secured pledges and how they are tracking against the pipeline valuation.

#26    Data to easily analyze the overall readiness of the major donor pipeline and portfolios.

•   The Profile Library download can reveal the overall readiness of donors to have a gift discussion, and help you to develop strategies for early Asks and strategies for elevating the readiness of the rest of the pipeline.

#27    Set key performance indicators (KPI) for gift officers and advancement volunteers, leading to smarter management and better outcomes.

•   The Chief Development Officer has visibility of everyone’s portfolios, which can be exported and used to update KPIs for each user.

#28    Data to easily track how much Ask readiness changes over time as a reflection of gift officers’ discovery and research.

•   Donors with low Readiness Scores need visits from gift officers or other stakeholders to get answers to key questions in the Abacus profile. Managers want to see the average readiness score to elevate over time.

#29    Data to easily see progress being made by each gift officer against their portfolios’ value.

•   Everyone with a donor portfolio needs to keep their Profile Library up to date and reflecting the status of their Asks.

#30  Data to create an “avatar” of your best donors so you can find them in your file.

•   With deeper analysis of the CSV export, you can combine attributes like age, employment status, number of gifts, and relationships with leadership to build an “avatar” of your best donors and then find more of them in your donor file to be added to your pipeline.

#31  Data to easily track Key Performance Indicators:

#32  Total pending Asks

#33  Total donors yet to be Asked

#34  Total funds raised

#35 Total Ask declines

#36  Relationship of amounts requested to the amount of the pledges

#37  Proportion of portfolios with Readiness Scores in the 90th, 80th, 70th and 60th percentiles to indicate progress with gift officer donor discovery efforts

#38  Median pledges expected (Abacus Goal) compared to the median of actual pledges

#39  Number of active donors in a portfolio

#40  Number of active donors in a portfolio in relation to the KPIs above. (Does a smaller portfolio yield better results?)

#41  Number of outlier results and ability to understand them


#42  Do more reliable annual revenue forecasting and planning.

•   By valuing your major donor pipeline, you can determine the ROI of hiring more front-line fundraisers to engage your best donors fully.

#43  Determine the staffing complement needed based on donor pipeline value.

•   By valuing your major donor pipeline and determining overall donor readiness, you can build your front-line and support team to address the status of your major donor pipeline.

#44  Conduct cash flow planning based on readiness levels of the donor pipeline and portfolios.

•   For example, add up the expected Goal amount for all donors with a readiness score of 95% and have your team engage them, you can forecast the pledges and initial pledge cash payments so you can predict cashflow from donors.

#45  Demonstrate the importance of investing in building your major donor pipeline.

•   All of the Abacus uses described in 1-48 can demonstrate to leadership the importance and ROI of investing in building your major donor pipeline…and you will RAISE MORE MONEY!


#46            Import the Donor Profile Library into your database.

#47             Integrate Abacus into your database for seamless use and daily Ask value updates.


#49             CLOSE MORE GIFTS.

#50             RAISING MORE MONEY!

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