Posted by & filed under Congress, Major/Planned Gifts, Metrics, Speakers.



President, Gobel Group

Do you know your ten most important numbers to becoming a top advancement producer? We call them your Key Metrics for Major Gifts. In this blog, we’ll help you identify your metrics and put you on a path to closing more and larger major gifts. So how do you identify your Key Metrics? Let’s start with the first number you need to know.

1. What is your annual goal?

Have you established an annual goal for how much money you expect to raise this year in major gifts? If you have, great… if you haven’t, here is a technique for creating your goal?

The most effective approach to goal-setting is to base your number on your pipeline, not a pre-determined amount based on your level or role. Begin the goal-setting process by reviewing your pipeline to identify a realistic but aggressive goal for dollars raised (cash and pledges) for your next year. In particular, you should look at prospects in a Solicited or Ready to Solicit status, and perhaps those in Cultivation or Stewardship status that will be ready for an ask in the next year. From this review, you will be able to identify those prospects who will be asked for a gift in the next year and the anticipated amount of each gift. This becomes the basis for your goal for dollars raised.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s use $100,000 as a goal for dollars raised.

2. What is your average size of gift?

Your next question is determining the average size of a major gift. So think of the major gifts you’ve closed at your institution—what is the average size of that gift? If you’re new to your role, ask your colleague what’s the average size of a major gift at your institution.

For this blog, let’s use $10,000 as an average gift amount.

3. Identify how many gifts you need to close each (and every) year

Now let’s do some math. Divide your annual goal of dollars raised into your average gift—got your answer. So that’s the target for the number of gifts you need to close every year to meet your goal of annual dollars raised.

In our example, if we divide $10,000 into $100,000, we realize we need to close, on average, about 10 major gifts each year to reach our goal.

4. Identify how many asks you need to make each year

So now you know how many gifts you need to close, on average, each year to reach your goal, but how many solicitations do you need to close to make your number of gifts? Essentially, what’s your rate of closure? If you know your closure rate, you can now determine how many asks you need to make to close your needed number of gifts.

Based on past experience, I typically see gift officers closing about one-third of the major gifts they ask for at the level they ask for, so in our example, we need to make 30 asks to close 10 gifts.

5. Identify how many visits you need to make to close a major gift

The next question is how many visits do you need to make, on average, to close one major gift, and then how many visits in total to get to your desired number of asks.

First, ask yourself how many visits, on average, does it take you to close a gift? There is a wide range here; for some, it might be 10 visits, for others it might be two. I typically see about 5 visits: one visit to qualify the prospect, two to cultivate, one to ask, and one to close.

Once you have identified how many visits to close one gift, you next need to calculate the total number of visits you need in total to manage your prospect pipeline.

6. Identify how many visits with your top prospects

How many visits do you need to make with your prospects in your “top group,” or those prospects that you expect to ask for a gift in the next year? For us, since we know we from step four that we need to make about 30 solicitations each year, we need to therefore have at least 30 prospects in the top group of our pipeline.

From experience, we know that generally we need one visit to ask and one visit to close, so on average, it’s about two visits with each of these 30 prospects. So, 30 prospects times two visits, or 60 total visits are required with prospects in our top group.

7. Identify how many visits with prospects in your middle group

How many prospects do you need in your “middle group”—those prospects in your pipeline, typically in cultivation or stewardship status that are probably 12 to 24 months away from an ask? It is from this list that you will find your future top prospects. So, how many prospects in your middle group do you need and how many visits do you need with them?

Generally, you will need about two visits with each prospect in your middle group to get them ready for an ask—one visit to identify their area of interest, and one visit to articulate and elevate the case for support.

From my experience, about one-third of the names in your middle group will fall off your list for lack of interest. So to identify how many prospects you need in the middle group, you need to add to your desired top group number an amount of prospects to account for the likely drop off.  Therefore, if we need 30 in our top group, we will need at least 15 additional prospects, or a total of 45 prospects, in our middle group. In addition to these 45 prospects that you are actively cultivating for a future gift, you also will likely have a certain number of donors in this middle group that are in stewardship and more than 24 months away from the next solicitation.

In our example, with our needed number of 45 prospects, you would then multiply by two (number of visits (2) needed per prospect) to get 90. So, 45 prospects is the desired number of prospects that you want in your middle group and 90 is the number of visits you need to make with this group.

8. Identify how many visits with prospects in your low group

As you know, you need to qualify new prospects every year to continue to replenish your pipeline. So the next number you need to determine is how many prospects you need to qualify each year.

Generally you will need only one visit to qualify a prospect for interest and capacity. And for every two new prospects you visit, one will be successfully qualified and move up to cultivation. Therefore, to successfully qualify 30 new prospects each year; you need to make 60 qualification visits every year.

9. Computing the total number of visits you need to make each year

The next step is to calculate the total number of visits you need to make each year. In our example, we would need to make 60 visits with our top group, 90 visits with our middle group, and 60 visits with our low group, for a total of 210 visits.

10. Breaking your numbers down into monthly goals

So now you know your annual numbers. Let’s break these down by dividing by 12 to understand your monthly targets. From this example, you will make on average 17 visits (210/12); 2 to 3 asks (30/12); and 1 closed gift (10/12) each month. These become your monthly targets.

Does this mean that if you don’t make your target of 17 visits a month that you won’t reach your goal of 10 closed gifts a year? No, but if you consistently fail to reach your monthly targets, you won’t reach your annual goal. It’s that simple.

The real importance of your Key Metrics is, therefore, the ability to stay focused on what’s important: getting visits, making asks and closing gifts. Key Metrics will increase your activity level, but working hard is not enough; you also need to work smart, through Key Steps, if you want to raise Top Advancement Producer levels of money. Check out my next blog on Key Steps or come to my workshop at Congress 2102 to learn more about how to maximize each visit with prospects.

Chad Gobel is President of the Gobel Group,a leading healthcare philanthropic consulting firm, whose focus is on enhancing a client’s grateful patient fundraising program by increasing the engagement of physicians and medical staff to drive more and larger major gifts. He will be presenting at Congress 2012 in Toronto.

One Response to “Your Key Metrics to Closing More and Larger Major Gifts”

  1. Rebekah

    This is very helpful! I had the pleasure of spending a week at the Madison Institute with Chad, and gained a lot of great knowledge from his expertise. Bring him back to Toronto!


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