Talk | Kimberly Elahab, Colorado College
Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Featuring: Kimberly Elahab
Institution: Colorado College
Topic: Pipeline, Portfolio, & Prospect Management / Stewardship & Planned Giving
Title: Director of Prospect Management
Occurred Wednesday, March 31st, 10am Pacific Time / 11am Mountain Time
If you're interested in learning more about running an efficient but successful Prospect Management shop, especially after the Covid-19 forced so many teams to have to reduce staff and budget, this Talk with Kimberly Elahab, Director of Prospect Management at Colorado College is for you.
Kimberley believes that there is no right or wrong way to run a Prospect Management shop. Everyone adds a bit of magic and this Talk is all about learning from each other. As with all our LiveAlumni Talks, this is a round-table discussion intended to bring the LiveAlumni community together to share knowledge.
Managing your prospect pipeline
Disqualifying a lead is just as important as qualifying one
Managing a downsized shop
The relationship between volunteering and giving
Finding a good balance between research officers and development officers
Focus on what you CAN do rather than what you can’t
Colorado College has been a LiveAlumni customer for over 6 years and Kimberly gives us a shoutout in the Talk - saying how she appreciates our partnership and watching the way that LiveAlumni is continually improving. (Thank you, Kimberly!)
How Colorado College Works
As with many others, Kimberly's Prospect Management shop has downsized considerably over this past year, from 3 down to 1. She manages Prospect ID, Research, Management and Analytics. Being a one-person team, she now relies heavily on LiveAlumni to help her segment her alumni by job titles, roles, board affiliations, etc. right out of the box.
She validates the prospects she pulls from LiveAlumni for wealth and categorizes them into two large groups depending on their resources. 500K and above are sent to their “Portfolio” and under 500K to their “Leads List”.
Gift Officers mine the Leads List continuously, so one of her main objectives is to make sure the list is continuously being groomed. Her Gift Officers will spend one full month out of the year exclusively to call new leads. Reaching out to new leads can be intimidating, but once they get started they are highly motivated to work with these new prospects for the rest of the year.
Kimberley's Pro Tip: Disqualifying a lead is just as important as qualifying a lead.
The leads list then gets coded into different categories such as future campaigns, non-responsive, annual giving, and planned giving.
The Estate Settlement Officer on their team is a lawyer who works exclusively on sorting out legal issues when Colorado College is endowed by an estate. Her role has had a big impact on the team as she is continually ahead of their fundraising mark.
Kimberley's Pro Tip: Hire an Estate Settlement Officer - it is a game changer!
Another participant in the Talk also recommends flagging prospects without children and with multiple properties as good leads for planned giving. They can be further screened by using proprietary algorithms of other platforms. Loyal donors who have given +15 times also get flagged for planned giving.
Managing a small shop
Covid-19 has moved the needle for Prospect Management teams in general, so it’s important to strategize in a way to help gift officers penetrate their prospect pools.
First, be realistic about the number of prospects that you can handle with the new bandwidth you have to work with. Stay focused on what you CAN do rather than on what you can no longer do. Set out clear procedures and steps to follow from research to prospect management. Managing your expectations will help you build credibility with your team and in the long term.
Kimberley says she's found that regular meetings with her gift officers and her stewardship staff to be very collaborative. They have made for a more dynamic portfolio as everyone sees prospects from different points of view. Also, creating a cohesive partnership between the researchers and the prospect managers is important because they have differing points of view on who qualifies as a good lead.
When starting with a small team, set realistic goals. Start by determining your goals and decide whether you need more prospects or just a better process to manage your existing prospects. It’s a step-by-step, slow process. Reaching out to warm prospects first will give gift officers confidence to reach out to colder ones later on.
It is also a good idea to have a yearly plan of touchpoints to organize around. For example goal-setting, lead discovery, review to assess the impact you are having on fundraising, and finally strategy update from macro down to micro.
Kimberly's Pro Tip: Focus on realistic goals and share, share, share!
Creating a Prospect Pipeline
There is a definite relationship between volunteering and giving. When Kimberly’s Gift Officers find leads that are not quite ready for major gift giving, they engage with them in a volunteer capacity. This is the first step in their pipeline. The prospects get moved along from there to annual giving and finally on to major gift giving.
Gift officers need no more than a good email, job title, and some wealth information to run with in order to develop relationships. Often, more information comes back to the gift officers once that conversation has started. Another useful way to contact a prospect when no valid email is via LinkedIn - LiveAlumni provides LinkedIn urls to help you find your lead's profiles quickly and easily.
Want to watch more LiveAlumni Talks?
Kimberly is just one of many inspiring members of the LiveAlumni community who have been sharing their strategies. If you’d like to learn more you can (1) register to attend one of our future Talks or (2) watch recordings of past Talks.