Moves Management Template: Building Personalized Relationships With Your Donors

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

As humans, we’re naturally drawn to relationship building. We seek out friends and partners who share common interests and values with us, and we spend time nurturing those connections. We crave friendship, companionship, and camaraderie.

All this leads me to the relationship between a nonprofit and its donors— a topic we’ve touched upon a lot on this blog.

During my tenure working at a medium-sized nonprofit with thousands of donors, I quickly realized that it was easy just to assign everyone a number and not necessarily nurture these relationships to the fullest extent.

After all, there was just not enough time to truly make an effort with every single person. But because of this mentality, I wasn’t even scratching the surface of a donor’s potential, and as a nonprofit fundraiser, I was leaving far too much money on the table.

When my manager suggested we try moves management, a method that could help us deepen relationships with key donors, our development team jumped on board. After all, we were obviously missing out on a lot of potential and we knew it!

Moves management worked for us and it very well may work for you too. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

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Moves Management 101

Moves management is a process by which a nonprofit or charity develops a plan to grow donor relationships by moving them along a predetermined path from the initial cultivation to the “ask” and beyond.

Because moves management relies on a very specific method mapped out by an organization, it’s usually reserved for key donors, such as potential first-time givers or major donors.

But before you dive into spreadsheet-building and data-mining, remember that moves management is built on a thorough procedure.

To build your strategy, follow these steps:



The first step in your moves management journey is to identify your target audience. For example, if you struggle with recruiting new, first-time donors, then consider targeting this audience.

On the other hand, if you know there’s potential for some of your recurring donors to transition into a major donor role, focus your efforts here.

Potential audiences include:

    • Prospective new donors
    • Prospective major donors
    • Prospective monthly/recurring donors


Next, build out your list. Start by jotting down the names of some prospective moves management candidates and then outline your mutual relationship. Note some of the following:

  • How often do they donate?
  • What is their average gift amount?
  • What are their philanthropic interests?
  • When was your last communication?

If possible, do a bit of digging. For instance, some donors with the potential to be major gift givers own businesses or give to other charitable organization.

Research your candidates to determine if:

  1. They can give (or give more)
  2. They may be interested in becoming more involved with your organization


After you narrow down your audience and propensity to give, note any particular goals you hope to achieve by using moves management. Goals take many forms depending on who you’re targeting, and they can range from engagement-based to financial.

Sometimes, goals are based on the entire group of prospects, while other times, they’re targeted to each individual. You should also try to think “outside the box,” choosing goals that are related to your donor’s influence on others using peer-based People Fundraising methods like social sharing and peer-to-peer fundraising.

As you start to craft your plan, you’ll find what works for you. A few examples of goals include:

  • A particular gift amount for a major donor
  • Percentage of donors converted to monthly giving
  • Percentage of donors becoming personal fundraisers in a peer-to-peer campaign.
  • Number of donors hosting a fundraising activity


Now that you know what you WANT to accomplish, it’s time to formulate a plan around these goals.

How are you going to get a donor in the position to agree to become a major donor? What are the techniques you want to use to convert annual givers into monthly givers? These strategies are what make moves management a streamlined, traceable process.

A stellar moves management strategy includes a number of action-items performed on a regular basis, such as monthly or quarterly, to encourage consistent participating in the donor engagement cycle.

Keep in mind: every action item is meant to educate your donor about your cause and cultivate your mutual relationship.

The actions you take will look something like this:

  • January: Phone call
  • February: Event invite
  • March: Handwritten thank you
  • April: Phone call about participating as a personal fundraiser


Each fundraiser in your organization bears a responsibility to implement the plan. However, your development team isn’t the only group that needs to get on board. Keep everyone in the loop, especially the marketing department, program coordinators, and volunteer coordinators who work directly with and/or communicate with donors.

Keep your strategy document open, both figuratively and literally. This will help to keep the whole team accountable and constantly looking to revise and improve on current methods.

When it’s time to make the “ask,” make sure it’s made by someone the candidate knows. Remember, the “ask” for your moves management candidate is more personal than a traditional fundraising campaign ask. Take your major donors or prospective board members out for a meal, meet at their place of work, or schedule a phone call. Don’t just send an email—make it special.

With everyone organization-wide focusing on the moves management plan, there’s bound to be overlap in communications and responsibilities. To keep everyone informed and on the same page, data tracking is key.

Document all interactions and track donor movement on your nonprofit CRM or even a spreadsheet. Any method is better than no method at all.


At the end of the year/quarter or whenever you see fit, schedule a meeting to go over your moves management plan. Note what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve to continue meeting your strategic goals.

Also, create next steps for your moves management candidate, including ways you will continue to inspire and activate them to become even more connected with your cause.

Must-Have Information In Your Moves Management Plan

Your moves management strategy should include the following information:

  1. Details on prospect identification
  2. Basic donor information, including name, current gift amount
  3. Donor interests and affinities
  4. Cultivation technique/s
  5. Actions/”Touches, including inspiration/education and engagement opportunities

Moves management is a tried-and-true formula to establish relationships with donors who ultimately feel closer to your cause and are more committed in terms of engagement and finances

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If you’re eager to get started, check out our handy moves management template to help shape your own strategy.

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