Portfolio sizes vary widely across health care organizations. In a 2017 survey, the median number of prospects per portfolio was 102 prospects, with a difference of 85 prospects between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile. Prior to 2021, portfolios at Sanford Health Foundation averaged ~150 prospects.
To help MGOs prioritize prospects, leaders created a primary portfolio—smaller than their previous portfolio—and a secondary portfolio. Primary portfolios consist of <75 prospects and secondary portfolios consist of <100 individuals. MGOs are assessed based on their performance within only their primary portfolio.
Leaders considered two factors when deciding on primary portfolio sizes:
- Historical performance. For the past two fiscal years, MGOs were connecting with 75 prospects per year on average.
- Interconnected goals. MGOs have a goal of 72 asks per year. Having a similar number of prospects in their portfolio helps them connect their actions to potential future asks and prioritize important prospects.
Restructuring portfolio sizes requires a prospect prioritization process. MGOs worked with leaders to choose 75 prospects for their primary portfolio based on donor scores and relationship expertise. After finalizing a portfolio, all leftover prospects are opened-up to up to all other primary portfolios or placed in a secondary portfolio.
Prioritize prospects based on database scoring
Data analysts helped MGOs prioritize donors by providing them with a score, from 0 to 100, for everyone in their previous portfolio:
- Positive indicators add to a score. Includes giving history (i.e., frequency, gift size, etc.), institutional engagement (i.e., event attendance, volunteer participation, etc.), and high wealth screenings.
- Negative indicators subtract from a score. Includes current participation in an existing pledge, written off gifts, poor wealth screenings, and having selected “do not contact” in recent communications.
Supplement scores with relationship knowledge
Scores acted as a prioritization tool for pruning efforts, but it wasn’t the only input fundraisers used to create their primary portfolios.
Fundraisers would ultimately utilize their relationship knowledge to finalize their portfolio list. For example, if a donor had multiple children in college or other financial constraints, fundraisers made the case for the donor to be put in a secondary portfolio or removed. Alternatively, fundraisers who had special connections to donors (e.g., same alumni association) could advocate for keeping those donors in their primary portfolio, even if their score was slightly below 80.