Donor Prospect Management Guidelines Come With A Caveat

Many mid-size and large charities have written guidelines for prospecting new and existing donors. There are numerous benefits when agreeing to a system of rules that help guide internal teams through procedures to be followed in a variety of situations and the expected conduct between fundraisers. Written guidelines, often referred to as Prospect Management Guidelines are one aspect of developing a culture of philanthropy in an organization.

Streamlining efforts and encouraging fundraisers to work together are necessary in order to share pertinent information about donor prospects. Protocols can help to align donor proposals to the priority needs and eliminate duplication or conflicting donor requests from inside the organization. Properly crafted prospect management guidelines (PMG) can aid in the development of an ecological, philanthropic culture, while promoting respectful and non-competitive relationships amongst fundraisers.

As well written the PMG document can be, it is important to address a caveat to enable the PMG and the team to achieve their intended purpose. The caveat being ‘creating a culture of trust and transparency’. This can’t be imbedded into the document per se, but cultivated by a committed group working together each and every day.

Employees and volunteers who maintain a high degree of trust are much more likely to possess a shared interest in the philanthropic needs of the charity and willing to communicate more clearly and exchange donor information more readily. Groups with trusting relationships tend to be synergistic, respectful of the PMG and more successful in their fund development efforts.

Providing access to information to create a shared understanding about donor relationships and interactions is essential amongst fundraisers. Transparency requires everyone involved to openly share relevant information with each other, while at the sometime being open to receiving feedback. Team adherence to the PMG and ultimately achieving long-term revenue success is correlated to maintaining appropriate levels of transparency.

Its been my experience that when one or both trust and transparency are missing or weak the PMG becomes ineffective, fundraisers stagnate and donor relationships break down. This can have a devastating effect on the charity’s financial health and its long-term social impact, ergo the executive leadership and the governance board should monitor team dynamics and behaviours  and, if needed, address any concerns.

So, before adopting Prospect Management Guidelines be sure your organization has a healthy culture of trust and transparency.


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