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Moves Management: The Essential Guide

Connor Nolan

Attracting and retaining donors takes consistent outreach and stewardship. Encouraging those donors to give at higher levels? Now that takes all that, and some detailed strategic planning. 

This type of strategic planning is known as moves management, and it’s the secret to cultivating lasting donor relationships that grow over time. 

In this essential guide, we’ll be covering all the basics: what is moves management, how the process works, and how to implement your strategy using your nonprofit software. 

Let’s get into it! 

What is Moves Management?

Moves management is the process of identifying and classifying your constituents and attempting to “move” them along to a higher level of giving or engagement. Throughout this process, nonprofits will typically: 

  • Attach unique activities to their prospects and donors in an attempt to better understand and individually classify them.
  • Build strategic, healthy, and interactive relationships to promote consistent engagement between these individuals and their organization.
  • Accelerate constituents through a custom engagement pipeline, relevant to their level of donorship, to continuously generate donations.

The goal is to encourage donors to continuously give, nurturing prospects until they (hopefully!) become major donors. 

The Moves Management Process in 6 Steps

A moves management process can be called a number of things — major donor prospecting, donor cultivation or even targeted donor stewardship. No matter what you call it, the processes are likely similar. You segment your constituents, choose your approach, and monitor for results that will inform future efforts.  

Here’s the process in six steps.

Step 1: Pick a Target Audience

Attempting to roll out several unique moves management strategies all at once is 1) confusing and 2) extremely tough to manage. That’s why, When it comes to developing your moves management process, it’s best to take things one giving level at a time. 

In order to figure out which target audience to start with, analyze your existing constituent base and identify people who have recently jumped from one giving level to another. Looking at your historical data will give you a good idea of where big wins can potentially be made. 

For example, if you notice that recurring donors make a significant impact on your total annual donations, you’ll probably want to create a plan around “moving” occasional donors into that specific giving tier. 

Once you’ve successfully implemented your first moves management effort, you can look into other key “move” opportunities and layer strategies from there. 

Takeaway: Take things one step at a time. Figure out which “move” will make the biggest impact on your bottom line, and focus on developing a strategy around that giving level.

Step 2: Determine Your Ask

Now that you’ve identified who you want to move, it’s time to craft your appeal. 

In order to do so effectively, you’ll want to take a look at common threads between members of your target audience. Look at information like:

  • How much they normally give
  • How often they normally give
  • Previous event attendance
  • Previous volunteer registrations

Use your findings to develop a donor persona for your “move” group. Use this information to develop a reasonable ask for your appeal. 

Takeaway: Don’t determine your ask blindly! Develop your appeal strategy based on how your target audience typically interacts with your organization.

Step 3: Set Your Goal(s)

What do you want your appeal to ultimately achieve? Maybe you’d like to reach a desired gift amount from a major donor? Or convert a percentage of donors to monthly giving?

Once you know what results you’d like to see come out of your moves management program, you can build a SMART goal around it

A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Adopting this framework for goal setting will help you zero in on what matters most. When you’re in the weeds on implementing a strategy, that clarity is crucial.

Takeaway: Make sure the goal of your moves management process is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (aka SMART).

Step 4: Create Your Plan

Use your goal to build out a strategy that will inform specific donor outreach activities. These activities will be carried out by your team in order to push your moves management process along. 

These targeted moves will largely differ based on your goal. For example, the activities planned for recurring donors will probably look much different from activities planned for prospects. 

You may want to designate a member of your development or fundraising team to be in charge of managing activities that relate to your moves management process. Having one point of contact for all marching orders will prevent embarrassing mistakes like sending the same event invite twice or missing a follow-up. 

Takeaway: Develop a strategy to carry out your goal, and pick a member of your team to be the point person for the project. This will prevent needless confusion down the line.

Step 5: Ask and Record 

Now’s the time to act on your strategy. Making your ask can go a number of ways, depending on the move that your organization has decided to focus on. 

For example, if you’re trying to convert a pool of prospects into donors, that can be done by either a direct mail or email campaign. However, if you’re trying to gain a major donor, you’re going to want to ensure that it’s made by someone the candidate knows, within an appropriate setting, and personally. 

In order to track your progress, document all interactions and donor activity on your nonprofit CRM or spreadsheet. 

Takeaway: Once you’ve made an ask, record your results in your CRM system or spreadsheet so you can keep an eye on your progress.

Step 6: Refine Your Process

Schedule a follow-up meeting with your team to cover what worked, what didn’t, and how you can strengthen your moves management plan to meet your strategic goals. 

This meeting can take place at the end of the year, quarter, or wherever you see fit, just as long as you use it as an opportunity to reflect on your data and generate some effective next steps for your candidates. Be sure to look at: 

  • Specifics on prospect identification
  • Fundamental donor information such as name and current gift amount
  • Donor interests and inclinations
  • Advancement techniques
  • Successful actions taken that can lead to further engagement 

From there on, it’s just a matter of tweaking for ongoing improvements. 

Takeaway: Fine-tune your process by scheduling a recurring meeting with your team so you can go over what’s working and what needs improvements.

Moves Management & Your Nonprofit Software

A good donor database should be customizable enough to track all aspects of your moves management process, from donation form set up to donor stewardship. 

Set yourself up for CRM success by making sure you’re tracking the information that matters most. Tailor each of your online forms to ask the questions that matter most for your organization. 

For example, if you work with an animal welfare nonprofit, you may want to ask whether donors prefer dogs or cats on your newsletter sign-up form. 

That simple question could help you develop targeted communications for both dog people and cat people.

Special touches like that are what really incentivize prospects to give.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a nonprofit software solution to support your moves management process, be sure to ask whether each option can be customized to fit your exact needs. After all, your software should work for you — not the other way around.  

There you have it!

Moves management might seem like a particularly heavy lift, but it can become quite manageable with the help of some strategic planning. Once that’s ready to go, the rest is just tracking, adjusting, and improving from there. 

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