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Five Benefits of Implementing a Pipeline

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Grant Seeker Monthly

Do you feel overwhelmed by the number funding prospects that you have? (If not, register for a free trial to Grant Connect. It lists thousands of grant opportunities standing by for your application). Good prospect management can help. It is like having a clean office: it leaves you organized, de-stresses your mind, and your co-workers very much appreciate it.

One easy-to-implement prospect management system is called pipeline tracking.  It is a way of organizing your funding prospects by stages in the fundraising process. For example, funding prospects that you are establishing a relationship with – perhaps through a meeting or site visit to your organization – would be considered in the “cultivation” stage, whereas funders to whom you have submitted an application to are in the “solicitation” stage.  In this blog post, we’re highlighting five of the reasons that pipeline tracking has become so popular.

1. It keeps the left hand aware of what the right hand is doing

In software with relationship management tools, like Grant Connect, Salesforce or The Raisers’s Edge, pipeline tracking is shared among team members. If you don’t currently have the budget for this type of software, try using a shared Google Doc Spreadsheet for tracking instead. This way you can immediately see the research and record keeping already completed by your colleagues. More importantly, having information in a centralized location prevents the slip-up many organizations are guilty of: applying to a funder without knowing you have done so in the past – or worse, applying to a funder for one project, unaware that your organization is currently applying to that same funder for something  else!

2. A pipeline reduces the impact of fundraiser turnover

At one point or another, your organization will have to deal with fundraiser turnover. As we discussed in a previous blog post, researchers have found that fundraisers stay at their positions on average less than two years. The indirect and direct costs associated with turnover can be extremely costly to your organization, and a well-stocked pipeline helps mitigate these expenses. Instead of having to start fresh, a pipeline allows new fundraisers to begin where their predecessors left off.

3. It helps determine your prospect ratio

One of your biggest challenges as a fundraiser is determining whether or not you have enough funding prospects to meet your goal. It’s a safe assumption that not every funder will say “yes” to your grant request. Successful fundraisers have a prospect ratio of at least 3:1, meaning that they aim to apply to at least three funders for each grant they hope to receive. By tracking your prospects in a pipeline, you can easily calculate if you have enough funders in solicitation to meet your goal, given your prospect ratio.

4. It ensures successful fundraising next year as well as this one

Let’s say you need $100,000 for a project in 2014. If you identify five great funding prospects, odds are that you can’t immediately submit applications to them and call it a day. Grant deadlines and application timelines differ widely from one funder to the next. This means that each of your prospects – although identified at the same time – will move through stages in the fundraising process at different speeds. Pipeline tracking provides valuable information to assist in this long term process. It will ensure that come January, you don’t forgot about that funder you identified in May 2013 who has a February 2nd 2014 deadline.

5. Pipeline tracking makes reporting a breeze

Have your board of directors or your colleagues ever asked you for a fundraising update when your to-do list was already a mile high? For fundraisers without good prospect management, these requests are stressful and time-consuming.  By using a pipeline you can immediately find out how many prospects have been identified, how many applications you have on-the-go, and how many grant requests were successful.  If you have access to software like Grant Connect, customized reports can even be exported at the click of a button.

Looking for more insights about successful grantseeking? Written by Devon Hurvid and Paul Anderson, this blog post was featured in Grantseeker Monthly, the e-newsletter of Grant Connect. Subscribe to this newsletter for monthly fundraising tips!
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