Making a Move

Getting a major gift is typically the results of a carefully planned and orchestrated series of moves or touches that brings the prospect closer to the organization. Different prospects start at different points—some are already committed to the organization and have, in the past, given large gifts; others are just at the start of their journey.

The development director’s chief role is to manage this voyage, ensuring that each step moves the prospect closer to the goal.

That means that each step must be considered—not just in terms of what the step is but especially in the deeper sense of what that step means. I’ve reviewed too many moves management grid sheets or prospecting plans to think that most people consider this part of the action carefully.

Indeed, I’ve looked at a top 25 list and noticed that each and every one had as a next move “invite to gala.” Really? Or “ED to see at gala.” Or “set coffee meeting.”

OK, why?

Think this through people. Ask yourself—what do I need to accomplish from this specific move? What is the outcome I desire, and if that outcome occurs as I hope, what is the next step I will take?

These steps need to be put down in writing, not merely thought about and kept in one’s head.

Some moves may be more arms length than others, but even—perhaps especially—these should be well thought out. If “send newsletter” is the move for March, how are you going to use this move to cement a relationship? Just sending out the newsletter won’t quite do it.

Major gifts or larger annual ones are important to the well being of your organization. Give them the consideration they deserve, and make sure that your moves are meaningful.


About janetlevineconsulting

For over 20 years, Janet Levine has worked for and with nonprofit and educational organizations, helping to grow their advancement programs. Her consulting company, Janet Levine Consulting, serves a wide range of organizations from small, all-volunteer agencies to major national organizations. She regularly teaches courses in non-profit management, fundraising and grant development, both face-to-face and online at In addition to her nonprofit work, Janet brings years of experience as a business and sales manager in the for-profit sector. She has an MBA from the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
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