For Impact


Sorting Prospects and Building a Prospect Action Plan

Funding | | Nick Fellers

How do you prioritize your prospects for visits and asks? We often use three buckets to sort prospects/portfolios into categories that help teams simplify timelines and ask amounts:

Momentum Commitments (MoCo)

MoCos are prospects you should just go see and ask. Prioritize speed over perfection… a gift over the gift. Prospects fall into this category either because they can be quick wins or because they don’t fall into the other two categories. Simplifying your approach to this set of prospects will generate more funds over time for an entire portfolio (of 30 to 300 prospects). Assume you can always build on the commitment at a later time. Use cases:

  • The CEO can’t find time to visit with this prospect for three months, so you assign the prospect to someone more junior.
  • If you don’t know what to ask for, use a clueless close.
  • A new prospect, where being ‘in’ is more important than maxing out the prospect’s total capacity. In many cases, a first or second commitment to your organization can be used to help you determine their capacity (for a leadership commitment) or alignment (for a specific project).

Project Commitments (ProCo)

The ProCo bucket is filled with prospects that will be tied to a project. You work project commitment prospects into your action plan based on project timelines and goals. If you’re launching a new education initiative and you need $1M of commitments by the end of the year, the funding goal and timeline are your constraints. They drive the ask strategy.

Let the project drive the ask. This could mean:

  • Even though the prospect could make a $500K gift – if the stars and moon were aligned – we ask for $100K (today) because that’s the project goal.
  • We might actually WAIT to make an ask, until more project details are completed.
  • We use the project timeline as part of our rationale. “The reason we’re asking you today is because this will help us unlock xyz.”

Leadership Commitments (LeadCo)

For most organizations, the LeadCo bucket will be composed of 5-30 prospects in total. The strategy here is about maximizing the ask/commitment, so you might give these prospects more time and attention to develop. You will make the ask when the timing is right.

Obviously, there are still some organizational constraints. You can’t take ten years to determine whether the timing is right. If you can’t make meaningful progress on an ask strategy within 12 months, consider re-evaluating the goal, priority (i.e. which bucket the prospect falls in), or qualification (whether or not they should be in the portfolio).

How to use these in determining a weekly/monthly focus

You can develop your own way to apply these, but here is one sample workflow:

  • Each month, ensure you’re advancing strategy on your LeadCos. This could mean a touch point, a scheduled predisposition strategy, a visit, or an ask. If and as you have actions to take, these take priority on the calendar.
  • Then, fill your weeks with activity that will help you complete top funding priorities and projects (from your ProCo bucket). In any given calendar week or month, it’s likely that you will only be successful in scheduling a handful of these prospects.
  • Fill the balance of the calendar or your action plan with MoCos and/or leads. Leads are prospects that you’re not ready to assign to one of the three buckets – they need a visit to qualify. However, after one visit, you should be ready to place them into a bucket.

Finally, these buckets are just heuristics (mental shortcuts). People adapt them as they’re helpful. It’s not uncommon to hear one of our teams say something like, “This is a leadership commitment AND a momentum commitment.”

See also: Sourcing Prospects