Major gift portfolios determine where relationship managers’ time and energy will be focused. How can nonprofits make sure they’re focusing on the right donors?

You may already know that predictive modeling can unearth new major gift prospects. But how can it help us improve a major gift portfolio that is already assigned?

In essence, predictive modeling can help evaluate two factors that are key to fundraising success:

  1. The portfolio’s quality (are the right donors assigned?)
  2. The portfolio’s performance (have we captured the available fundraising potential?)

CCS uses these two factors to critically evaluate and optimize the makeup of our clients’ major gift portfolios.

Step 1: Evaluating Quality

A quality major gift portfolio contains prospects who have both capacity and affinity. This means that the prospects not only have the financial means to donate to charity, but also have an interest in giving to your organization specifically.

A nonprofit’s CRM data can reveal a lot about affinity. CCS uses this rich internal data to build predictive models, which leave us with a score that estimates how likely each donor is to give to your organization.

To estimate capacity, we conduct external wealth screening research. Each wealth screening service takes a slightly different approach to producing gift capacity estimates. In general, these services use assets, real estate, income, and public giving data to generate a value that estimates how much money a particular household can donate to all charities over a five-year period.

To visualize the quality of a portfolio, CCS often puts these affinity and capacity data points together to build a quadrant chart like the one below. Prospects who both score well on the predictive models and exhibit meaningful gift capacity fall in the upper right quadrant of the chart.

Illustrating the quality of a portfolio in this way brings up key questions, such as:

Step 2: Evaluating Performance

In addition to assessing your portfolio’s quality, you also want to assess your portfolio’s performance. A portfolio can contain the most ideal prospects and still not live up to its potential in terms of actual dollars raised.

We can estimate how well a portfolio is performing by using a metric called the capacity capture rate. The capacity capture rate is the ratio of a prospect’s last five years of giving to the minimum value of their estimated gift capacity range. In other words, the capacity capture rate estimates what percentage of a donor’s total giving capacity went to your organization.

The table below groups prospects into minimum estimated capacity ranges and computes the average (mean) and median capacity capture rate for each of these groups.

In the case of the client example above, we know there are outliers who unduly influence the average. When the average capacity capture rate is meaningfully different than the median capture rate, there is a good chance that there are some outliers. Removing the outliers can help us get a better sense of the underlying capture rate for the portfolio as a whole.

CCS typically sees an average capacity capture rate of 10% and a median capture rate of 1%. Values greater than that indicate a portfolio that is performing well. However, even if the overall numbers indicate good portfolio performance, digging a bit deeper can uncover more valuable information.

The chart above illustrates the capture rate ranges. This graph shows some key pieces of data that can help inform the segmentation and prioritization of the portfolio, including:

Step 3: Bringing Quality and Performance Data Together

The chart below shows a segmentation we recommended to a recent client who was considering their portfolio’s quality and performance data.

Diagram showing CCS's recommendation for our client for optimizing their major gift portfolio. We recommended that of the 956 assigned prospects in major gift portfolios, 151 should potentially be disqualified, 34 should be further researched, 500 should be re-engaged to increase giving, and for 271 the nonprofit should sustain its current engagement.

Understanding the quality and performance of your gift portfolio enables making data-driven decisions to optimize that portfolio. It will allow you to identify some prospects that should be removed, others that need to be further researched or need new engagement strategies, and others where you will want to stay the course since the current strategy is working.

By optimizing major gift portfolios with predictive modeling, fundraising teams can ensure that their limited time and resources are being expended to yield the best results.

How can we help you?

Learn how predictive modeling can help your organization reach its fundraising potential.

Explore More Insights


How Predictive Modeling Can Help Nonprofits Identify New Major Gift Prospects

January 26, 2021

CCS’s Senior Data Scientist John Sammis explains how a nonprofit can use predictive modeling to unearth new fundraising potential in its donor database.


RFM and Wealth Screening for Major Gift Strategy

June 29, 2022

Learn how to perform an RFM analysis, the simplest tool to start narrowing your prospect list to your most impactful donors. This article contains background information and a video to lead you step-by-step into meaningful engagement.