How to Focus on the Right Crisis Donors: A Checklist

Read Time: 3 minutes


Over the past several months, many organizations have seen an influx of new donors. Organizations focused on racial justice. Social service agencies. Hospitals. The list goes on. If your organization has experienced an uptick in support, we encourage you to first focus on retaining these supporters beyond the crisis moment.

As you work to make a strong first impression, engage donors meaningfully, and quickly renew them, consider future upgrades. Which of your new supporters have the potential to become major donors down the road, and where should you place your focus?

This checklist shares a series of steps you can take to prioritize the right crisis donors and set the stage for upgrades. Beam Insights, our fundraising planning software, can play a role in each step—check out the “How Beam Insights Can Help” sections to learn more.

⬜ Score each crisis donor.

Consider investing in wealth screening services to get a sense of the philanthropic capacity of your donor base. Then, develop customized scoring for each constituent based on past giving, proposals, and wealth information—this scoring exercise can help your team segment prospective donors into near-term and longer-term prospects.

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights takes the information you have in your database (like wealth screening, giving history, and proposals) and creates a Best Wealth Indicator (BWI) score. This BWI gives you a sense of each prospect’s philanthropic capacity.

⬜ Divide prospects into two segments: near term and future.

Understanding the prospects who have the capacity and the affinity to give can help you determine your pipeline and set realistic goals. Prospect pools can be overwhelming—segmentation allows you to spend your valuable time with the best prospects.

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights segments prospects into “Identified Prospects,” those who have capacity and affinity to give in the short term and “Future Prospects,” those who have the capacity but may not be as connected with your organization right now. These prospect segments are mapped to a gift table. That way, you can see where your prospect gaps are and where you need to add proposals to your pipeline.

⬜ Qualify high-capacity crisis donors.

Wealth screening and scoring can help you determine which prospects need to be qualified purely based on philanthropic capacity. Once you have a list of these donors, assign them to gift officers for a quick qualification call to determine if the prospect is interested in learning more about your organization. You can also use volunteers for this purpose. They can have a phone conversation with a new donor, thank them for their gift, and determine if deepening the relationship makes sense. Qualifying donors helps to build a strong pipeline.

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights shows which high-capacity prospects are managed and which are unmanaged. You can look at your high-capacity, unmanaged prospects and build a qualification list.

⬜ Assess the makeup of your major gift portfolios.

Overcrowded and stagnant portfolios can be overwhelming. Assessing each team member’s portfolio should be an ongoing exercise. Ask the following questions:

  • What percent of my prospects are in each of the relationship management stages?
  • How long have my prospects been in each stage? Are they moving through the cycle appropriately?
  • Are there prospects who have high capacity but no engagement who I should move out of active management?
  • Do I have low-capacity prospects with low engagement who I can move out of active management?

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights allows you to view your portfolio by capacity of prospects. Take a look at the capacity distribution of your portfolio. Do you have a lot of high-capacity future prospects who need deeper engagement? Or a lot of low-capacity identified prospects who should be moved to an annual fund pool?

⬜ Rebalance portfolios to make room for high-value crisis donors.

Portfolios should be active. As gift officers build relationships with donors, it can be hard to “move them out” or disqualify them. Consider creating a “high-end annual fund” and/or “permanent stewardship” pools. Create communications plans for these groups so gift officers feel that the prospects they’ve cultivated will still feel connected to your organization.

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights gives you the data you need to make informed decisions about portfolio rebalancing. Directors or VPs can look at gift officer portfolios by capacity and prospect stage. Is your team managing the right high-capacity prospects?

⬜ Use prospect staging and proposals to track major gift prospects in your database.

Understanding where prospects are in the relationship management cycle can help project the pipeline and support goal setting. If the team has a high percentage of prospects in qualification or discovery, consider making a push to qualify or disqualify these prospects to make room for other high-capacity and engaged donors. Prospects should be actively moving through the relationship management stages, and the team should be tracking each move.

How Beam Insights Can Help

Beam Insights allows users to filter prospect lists and gift officer portfolios by prospect stage. You can drill down to see the capacity and proposal amounts of prospects at each capacity level. Look to see which seven-figure prospects are in solicitation and which need to be qualified quickly.

I hope this checklist serves as a helpful guide as you prioritize crisis donors, build relationships, and set the stage for upgrades. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

I also encourage you to sign up for a demo of Beam Insights and explore how it can help you at this pivotal moment:

Sign up for a Beam Insights demo


Caitlin Bristow

Caitlin Bristow is a Senior Consultant at Campbell & Company and Product Manager of Beam Insights. She partners with nonprofits across sectors to help them build philanthropic support and deepen donor relationships.