Let it Go, Let it Go! Tidying up Your Portfolio

Sorting through clothes
by Holly Weimer

I have watched Disney’s Frozen more times than I care to admit, and I can’t help but channel my inner Queen Elsa when I encourage fundraisers to “let go” of prospects in their portfolio. It might not be all about raging inner storms or slamming the figurative door, but sometimes moving on is necessary: whether it is due to disqualification, someone has made their ultimate gift, or they have stopped being engaged/responsive altogether.

How do you decide to let go and not end up on an episode of Hoarders?  Decluttering, of course. A phenomenon swept through American homes in recent years: tidying up, popularized by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She lists some basic rules that can be very applicable when it comes to “tidying up” portfolios.

Full transparency: I did not read the book. And I may have only watched an episode or two from the Netflix series, “Tidying Up,” but I drank the Kool-Aid (I totally fold my shirts the way she recommends now—big space saver).

Anywho, according to The KonMari Method, “you should only keep those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.” Here are the six rules of the method, and how they apply to prospect management.

Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up

Clean up takes time and effort, but you are not required to do it alone. We understand the amount of time and effort that goes into making sure every date is current, every opportunity status is correct, every plan has at least one pending step, etc. Prospect Management is here to help you walk through each prospect and plan in your portfolio.

Rule 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle portfolio

How many prospects are in your ideal portfolio? Where do you focus your travel? What is the goal number of prospects? Do you have enough in your portfolio to keep your pipeline full? With an increased focus on a three-year pipeline strategy and the ultimate goal of being a $300,000,000 shop (look at all those zeros), your ideal portfolio needs to be topnotch. Got your ideal portfolio in mind? Great—use this as inspiration!

Rule 3: Finish discarding first

Drop prospects before adding new ones into the mix. Make a plan historical before adding another one. It is easier to discard before you start organizing. Spend your valuable time on the best prospects and not on those who are not truly major gift prospects. Remember: who is in your ideal portfolio? Keep these prospects!

Rule 4: Tidy by category, not by location

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.” – Desmond Tutu

The key with this rule is to finish one thing before moving on to the next. Whether it be plan type or stage, it is important to pick a category and stick with it. Jumping around is going to cause you to get sidetracked and lose momentum.

Rule 5: Follow the right order

This one is a bit trickier, as there is no particular order when it comes to combing through your portfolio. Maybe a place to start is with the prospects who you do not have the longest/strongest relationship with—the easy, quick decisions. It becomes more difficult to drop a prospect if you have built a long-term relationship. According to KonMari, sentimental items should come last because these items tend to take you to a place that requires more consideration and emotional energy.

Rule 6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy

When recalling a prospect, do you look forward to working with this person? Have they responded to any of your outreaches? Do you recognize their name? Keep only those prospects who spark “joy” and meet the highest standards to be in your ideal portfolio. Is there hesitation on whether the prospect will fit into your ideal portfolio or not? Elsa said it best: “let it go.”

“By letting go of the things that have been in your life with a feeling of gratitude, you foster appreciation for, and a desire to take better care of, the things in your life.”

As, Chris Foley reiterated, “We love all our alumni, we just need to love some of them more intensely.” Remember to thank your prospects for their service and then let them go… or requalify them for another gift with a new plan.