Making the Best Moves

My husband will tell you that I am not a sport fan. I don’t get the allegiance to teams and I certainly don’t understand how an Indians win or loss can color his mood for days. As a kid in summer camp, I hated having to play team sports and much preferred solitary endeavors. Even today, I don’t travel in packs and spend a great deal of time alone. But there is one area of my life where I believe a team is crucial: Major Gift Fundraising.

Over the years, much noise has been about “Moves Management.” Many people claim to have invented it, expanded it, made it better. Maybe they all did. And as much as I dislike team sports, I dislike following the leader even more (or maybe I dislike following the leader because I dislike team sports….). But sometimes, something is celebrated for good reason, and if you aren’t following a Moves Management like structure, you probably aren’t raising as many major gifts (or ones that are as large) as you could.

There are two really important features about this sort of fundraising. One is that it uses teams. And truly, if I can live with that, so can you. The second is that must keep records. There are two essential types of records—the chart of what steps you are going to take, and the longer recording of what transpired. This latter is called a contact (or call) report.

The ideal team is made up of three:

    1. The person who has access to the prospect 2. The person to whom that prospect would have a very hard time saying “no.” 3. The professional development staff member who coordinates and facilitates the whole process.

This team works together toward a mutually agreed upon goal.

This is very different from the model where the staff member is expected to cultivate and solicit a prospect all on her own.

It is also very different than the model too many organizations attempt—telling the Board member that he or she needs to “raise money.” That rarely works. When it does, too often the gift the Board member brings in is one he or she will repay in a month or two or three.

Working as a team, staff and Board members each bring their particular skills and influence into play. And, as a team, help to ensure charitable support for their organization.

So maybe this is what turns my husband on as he enthuses, “Go Tribe.”

Janet Levine is a consultant, coach and trainer who works with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping them to increase their fundraising capacity. Learn more about her services, workshops and upcoming book at