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Pipeline Planner

Predict, Plan & Execute Major Donor Outcomes Better

At the core of every successful advancement program is an intentional effort to build and prioritize a major donor pipeline and optimize major donor giving. The Major Donor Calculator Pipeline Planner offers a tool to advancement offices for pipeline planning and gift conversation preparation.

Prepare for Bold Yet Respectful Asks with
Greater Readiness & Confidence

Smart Wizard & Ask Results

smart wizardMajor Donor Calculator’s 9-step Smart Wizard prompts the user to input 21 fields about the donor in a simple and intuitive manner. The steps seek donor details, giving history to the organization, philanthropic capacity estimates from wealth estimator services, board involvement, engagement with the organization, and alignment of the donor’s interest and readiness to give. Additional fields are available to add reference notes to keep teams informed. The final step enables users to review and edit their inputs before executing the Ask calculation. Clear instructions, definitions, and guidance are provided throughout the Smart Wizard to ensure proper completion.

The Calculator’s Ask Results provide an Ask Readiness Score and aspirational Pledge Ask Amount, an expected Pledge Goal, and tips for asking and closing a pledge.  It helps fundraisers overcome the inherent individual and organizational bias we all have about money. It enables fundraisers to make sense of donor wealth and giving capacity and other donor research, along with guidance to best prepare for gift conversations. Pledge outcomes will improve while helping to refine fundraising professionals’ Ask acumen and relationship-building skills.

Readiness Score

Abacus Ask Readiness Score

The Readiness Score provides the percent completeness of a donor profile weighted by criteria importance. It includes guidance on whether or not the gift officer is adequately prepared for a gift conversation. The Readiness Score reflects how well the gift officer knows the donor and whether or not additional information is needed.

Ask – Aspirational

Pledge Ask Amount

The Pledge Ask provides a recommended 3-year pledge amount a gift officer should use in their initial gift conversation with the donor. It is calculated to be bold yet respectful to donors. In real-world outcomes, aspirational Pledge Asks were within 40% of Actual Pledges, as compared with traditional philanthropic capacity estimates that were 250% of Actual Pledges.

Goal – Predictive

pledge goal

The Pledge Goal provides a realistic 3-year pledge that the gift officer can expect to receive from a donor. The Pledge Goal is highly predictive and is ideal for a variety of planning purposes. Gift officers can expect the Pledge Goal to typically align with the Actual Pledge. In real-world outcomes, the Pledge Goal was within 2% of Actual Pledges.  Your results may vary, but you can expect Abacus results to be one of the most effective tools for predicting your pipeline performance.

Ask & Close Tips

Tips for Asking & Closing a Pledge

The Tips section provides gift officers with specific, tried-and-true Ask language and closing strategies to overcome donor pledge hesitation by suggesting more manageable multi-year payments and potential tax deduction benefits. Depending on the life stage of the donor, a recommendation is made on whether to discuss an estate gift.

Advanced Planning Tools

The Pipeline Planner plan takes Abacus above and beyond aspirational Asks to provide a highly predictive expected Pledge Goal, a full-fledged, exportable Profile Library with updatable Pledge Status, and Level I training and support.

Donor Profile Library

The Profile Library contains each donor’s profile details and calculated recommendations including the donor’s name and ID (if available), profile creation date and user, Ask Readiness Score, recommended Pledge Ask and expected Pledge Goal amount, and Actual Pledge status and amount.

Ask Status & Actual Pledge 

The Ask Status provides and updatable field for the user to return and update. A field for inputting the donor’s Actual Pledge is also provided. Users are automatically reminded to update the Ask Status via email notification. Useful analysis of Pledge Ask and Goal accuracy and success can be calculated versus Actual Pledges.

Export to CSV

export to csv

The Donor Profile Library can be downloaded into a CSV file, at a summary and complete detailed level, for data sorting and analysis, as well as for import into a database. The Pipeline Planner plan provides for the inclusion of detailed donor notes and Donor Record ID from an organization’s database to enable easy data integration.


Some of the key performance indicators you can derive from the Donor Profile export include:

  • Total pending Asks
  • Total donors yet to be Asked
  • Total funds raised
  • Total Ask declines
  • Relationship of amounts requested to the amount of the pledges
  • Proportion of portfolios with Readiness Scores in the 90th, 80th, 70th and 60th percentiles to indicate progress with gift officer donor discovery efforts
  • Median pledges expected (Abacus Goal) compared to the median of actual pledges
  • Number of active donors in a portfolio
  • Number of active donors in a portfolio in relation to the KPIs above. (Does a smaller portfolio yield better results?)
  • Number of outlier results and ability to understand them

Actual pledge performance, aggregated from Abacus user results, may reveal insights that will be shared in periodic reports to subscribers and the nonprofit community.  They will also contribute to Calculator refinements over time.

Plan Pipeline Activities & Campaigns More Effectively

Export combined calculated profiles for the top donors in your pipeline or individual gift officer portfolios to arrive at valuations effective for setting and planning fundraising goals, measuring key performance indicators (KPIs), and staff management.

Pipeline & Portfolio Valuation

Every major donor program has gift officers with a portfolio of donors to build relationships, educate about their organization, cultivate and engage, secure gifts, and steward with an ongoing strategy. Fundraisers can use Major Donor Calculator to value their portfolio, set fundraising goals and expectations, and manage their ongoing fundraising efforts. Once profiles are created for the top 50 or 100 donors, export the library into a CSV file. By adding the total recommended goal amounts, you will have the most predictive understanding of what total gifts to expect from those donors.

Campaign Readiness & Management

When a Development team is considering if they are ready to undertake a multi-million dollar campaign they should use Major Donor Calculator to calculate the expected Pledge Goals for their top 30 to 40 donors to see their total potential giving. Development teams can be confident they are ready if donor’s total potential giving is 40% or more of the organization’s campaign goal.  The average of all Readiness Scores can also shed light on the overall strength of relationships the team has with your donors.

Capital Campaigns

Most of the funds raised in capital campaigns are through major and transformational gifts from individuals. Gift officers should use the Calculator to prioritize which donors to work with initially and sequentially during their campaign.

Pipeline Planning & Budgeting

Management can use the Calculator Pledge Goal to accurately predict potential fundraising in an organization’s donor pipeline.  Management can use the cumulative total of their donor pipeline to help determine if more or less staffing is needed and to anticipate expenses related to donor cultivation and solicitation activities.