A Guide to Moves Management for Nonprofits

    What is moves management?

    Taking a prospect from an unknown individual to a consistent and committed long-term donor can be a long and challenging process. To help ensure success, nonprofits employ a series of actions and strategies to effectively move prospects through the donor cultivation cycle. This process is known as moves management. It encompasses the actions your development team takes to “move” a prospect from identification to long-term donor.

    Key Steps of a Moves Management Cycle


    Moves management cycle is essentially the process of donor development. It can be broken down into further smaller steps as following

    • Identification: Find new giving opportunities among individuals, companies, and foundations through peer referrals, wealth screens, and prospect research tools.
    • Qualification: Conduct initial research to help evaluate a prospect’s ability and likelihood to give to your organization. Look for things like philanthropic giving and interests, financial capacity, and foundation affiliations.
    • Discovery: As you start to build out a comprehensive profile on your new prospective donors, your development team will want to make initial contact.
    • Cultivation: It’s time to build relationships with prospective donors and educate them about your mission. Get to know individuals better through research and personal interactions, which will help build comprehensive prospect profiles.
    • Solicitation: Present an informed, evidence-based gift ask to your prospect.
    • Stewardship: After securing a new donor, express gratitude for their contribution while continuing to develop the relationship, and show the impact of their gift.

    Want to know more about how Moves Management Cycle is almost the same as any marketing funnel? Check our Moves Management cheat sheet!

    moves management cheatsheet


    Identification, Qualification and Discovery

    Prospect Identification

    The first step of moves management is identifying potential donors using a number of sources such as peer referrals, a wealth screen of event attendees, or through a fundraising intelligence tool. As you would guess, a fundraising intelligence software will help streamline this process.

    Depending on the tool, you can generate lists of prospective donors among individuals, corporations, and foundations. Most fundraising intelligence software will let you run wealth screens, which help segment and sort your database into an actionable list of names. iWave has a wonderful prospect research software you must check out!


    After identifying prospects with giving potential, the next step is qualification. Assigning scores that are customized specifically to your organization will help qualify and sort prospective and current donors in order of priority.

    The iWave Score, for example, provides a rating of each prospect’s propensity (likelihood to give), affinity (connection to your cause), and capacity (ability to give). Because each score is customized to your organization, it becomes easy to sort and search prospects within your database.


    Once the prospect’s major gift potential has been verified according to your organization’s unique major gift threshold, the deeper discovery process begins.

    Using a software like iWave, you can start creating a comprehensive profile for each prospect.
    This is a great opportunity to include internal giving data as well as external data provided by your fundraising intelligence platform. During discovery your development team will want to make initial contact with the prospect. This can be via email, phone or a
    face-to-face meeting. Be sure to have your questions ready. This is your chance to pick up on subtle cues about their wealth and philanthropic passions.

    Prospect Cultivation and Solicitation

    The next step is about establishing and nurturing relationships. Now it’s time to dig deeper in iWave to determine the right time to ask and the right gift amount to ask for.

    Prospect research and other details uncovered through the gift officer’s interactions with the prospect will inform the ask amount. To ensure you are determining the right time and ask, validate and verify the information beforehand.

    Because the cultivation step requires leveraging as many wealth indicators as possible, you need to cast a wide net.

    Gather critical information such as

    • Real estate holdings
    • Stock holdings
    • Employer, job title, and salary information
    • Estimated net worth
    • Assets and wealth indicators
      (luxury vehicles, accredited investor status, etc.)

    Donor Stewardship

    Congratulations! Your team secured a new major gift. But the work is not over yet.

    Your team invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into securing that gift. Now you need to go back to the beginning of the moves management process.

    Existing Donors

    Circle back and touch base. What has the donor been up to since they last met with the fundraising team? Conduct some preliminary research to identify changes in their business, liquidity, and charitable/political giving.

    New Donors

    Take what you learned from your most recent moves management success (or failure). Apply those lessons as you identify new potential donors. Each time you begin the process over again, your work will become more efficient and streamlined.

    Now that you have established a moves management strategy, it’s up to you and your team to maintain and even expand it. Some of the most successful nonprofits hold weekly development meetings.

    These meetings should include anyone involved in major gifts fundraising. This includes the executive director, development staff, administrative assistants, and key board members. Set aside time for discussion and delegate assignments with clear deadlines.

    Moves management appears daunting on the surface, but it can be broken down into bite-sized, actionable steps that propel your fundraising program (and your organization as a whole) forward.


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    What You Should Do Now

    1. Request a Demo and see how iWave can help your nonprofit organization target the best potential donors.
    2. Looking for creative ideas to raise money?
      Read our in-depth resource on fundraising ideas or use our Fundraising Thermometer to create a cool graphic to show your fundraising progress.
    3. If you know someone who’d enjoy this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

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