Every executive director needs a caseload. A caseload of donors, that they manage. A caseload of donors that they work to ensure are having a vibrant and great donor experience with your organization.
I don’t care if the only staff member is the executive director. That’s even more so a case where they need a caseload. I don’t care if they have 20 direct reports and development is not their primary responsibility because they have a whole team of development people. They still need a donor caseload as the top staff member. There’s that certain key top group of donors that expect to have access to the top staff member and their relationship will only deepen with the organization if they get that.
So, if you are a crazy time strapped executive director or not used to doing this, what’s the minimum? I say twelve. Twelve prospects gives you one donor visit a month. If you meet with them each once a year, you’ll be fine. Look at your list once a month or so, reach out on holidays, birthdays, etc. “I was thinking of you today and wanted to let you know what is happening with …” These simple donor touch points will deepen those key relationships. Just think what would happen if the twelve most key relationships at your organization received that focus every year.
If there’s a little more time can we take it to 20, 25 or 30 donor relationships? Imagine the impact that would have. Yes, you as a development staffer are still going to have to prod and push and to make sure those contacts happen. “How’s you caseload going? Have you done your contacts for this month?” But, the impact that it will have with your donors will be well worth it.
So, if you’re an executive director, ask “Could I do this?” If you’re the development director, put this out to your ED and see what they have to say. If you’re a board member, what about evaluating the executive director based on how well they serve their caseload? Did they meet with everybody? Did they routinely reach out to them. That is a great metric for ED success, and for development success at your organization.