Prospect Management System


Delta State Policy on Contact and Solicitation of Donors and Donor Prospects by University Employees

The good will of alumni and friends and the financial support from donors are resources of the university.  The Division of University Advancement & External Relations is responsible for managing these resources. To coordinate and foster mutually beneficial partnerships with colleges, departments and programs, UA & ER is granted oversight of the following activities:

  • Directing all private fund raising activities, including the assignment of prospects
  • The authorization to or not to solicit, and the approval for all fundraising plans
  • The ownership and maintenance of (a) all biographical, cultivation, and solicitation data on alumni, donors, parents, other constituents, and prospects and (b) the records of private gift donations and pledge agreements.

All faculty, staff, students and affiliates of the university wishing to foster relationships with donors or donor prospects and/or raise private gift funds for programs or areas at Delta State University are required to work within approved plans and guidelines through the Division of University Advancement & External Relations.

All fundraising efforts undertaken on behalf of the university and its programs may occur only through the prior approval of the Vice President of University Advancement & External Relations (or his/her designee within the Division).  No other fundraising activities in support of the university are sanctioned by the institution.


Prospect Management
– An ongoing process including the matching of prospect interests to institutional needs, the development and implementation of cultivation and solicitation strategies, the assignment of responsibility for the prospect to staff and volunteers, and the systematic monitoring of activity undertaken with the prospect.

Prospect – An individual or organization confirmed as having the financial capacity to make a gift to the institution and some existing or potential interest in doing so.

Cultivation – The process by which an institution develops a relationship with a prospective donor by providing information and involving the prospect in the life of the institution, with the goal of leading to that prospect’s commitment and support.

Solicitation – The process of asking a donor or prospect to make a philanthropic gift to the institution.

Stewardship – Activities designed to keep donors informed and involved regarding the use and benefits of their past gifts.



  1. The Prospect Management System Policy (PMSP) is intended to accomplish the following:
    1. Ensure that major gift prospects are engaged in conversations and activities that bring them closer to Delta State University so as to enhance the likelihood of a successful major gift solicitation, while minimizing cross departmental and campus confusion as to the timing, nature, and level of any such solicitation.
    2. Bring order to the sometimes-unpredictable process of qualifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gift prospects and donors of all areas of campus by encouraging communication and coordination between development staff and others in their activities;
    3. Maintain focus on individual major gift development and increase amounts raised for Delta State University; and
    4. Provide a framework of procedures that are readily understood and followed by ALL those who perform major gift fundraising on behalf of all areas of Delta State – whether Foundation or Alumni Association Board members, members of the President and Campaign Cabinets, volunteers, development officers, deans/directors, institutional grants director, faculty or staff.
  2. Principles of the Prospect Management System Policy:
    1. Fundraising is donor driven. It is a donor’s interest, not individual or unit projects and agendas, that dictates how development staff members interact with that donor, with each other, and how conflicts among fundraising staff are resolved.
    2. Systems to support fund raising are intended to maximize support for Delta State, not any particular unit.
    3. Simplicity of operation, with limited paperwork requirements, should infuse the system.
    4. Conduct should be collegial at all times.
    5. Good communications and adherence to the rules by all members of the Delta State community are required.
    6. Unresolved conflict on assignments or strategy should be brought to the attention of the Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations for resolution.
  3. Procedures
    1. Individual prospects/donors may be assigned for contact management to development personnel (and others) upon review and approval of a completed Request for Prospect Assignment form. This form will be available online and can also be requested by contacting the Development Office.
    2. The Chief Development Officer is assigned as Primary Manager to all corporations and foundations determined or known to have multiple interests on campus.  In all other situations, corporation and foundation prospects will be assigned individually through requests for prospect assignment.
    3. For assignment purposes a major gift prospect is, in the judgment of the requestor, capable of making a major gift of $25,000+ in a single gift and/or a five -year pledge of $5,000 or more per year. Assignments will also be made based on the potential of the prospect to develop into the major gift category or provide critical assistance in connecting staff members with major prospects.
    4. A demonstrated connection with the prospect must be explained in the strategy plan portion of the request for assignment. This may be face-to-face contact, referral by a volunteer or staff member, extensive phone/e-mail/correspondence contact or a special interaction – perhaps initiated by the prospect – with the fundraiser, dean/director, or faculty member or the result of prospect research which indicates a very high likelihood of possible interest.
    5. All substantive contacts with prospects, by all members of the Delta State community, are to be recorded in a contact report filed into the Banner System within five working days after the visit or other meaningful contact.  Contact reports will be filed directly into Banner by fundraisers and by those without system access, via e-mail or copy of correspondence, to the Chief Development Officer.  Appropriate distribution of contact information is the responsibility of the contacting staff member.  Contact reports should be filed under the following guidelines:
      1. A meaningful/substantive contact motivates a prospect to consider an outcome you have discussed with them.
      2. Substantive contacts include a conversation which moves a prospect forward to a gift, a staff visit, e-mail, correspondence, deans/department chairs or directors, or other staff in which active stewardship, cultivation, or solicitation of an individual has taken place.
      3. Non-meaningful contacts, such as birthday/holiday cards, random telephone calls or forms of electronic communications should only be reported if they significantly advance the prospect relationship thereby creating an opportunity for an ongoing dialog regarding Delta State.
    6. Contact reports shall also be required when significant new information is learned as a result of the contact, i.e. address change, employment change, marital status, inheritance, family disputes, etc.
    7. All contact reports should be accompanied by a plan for the next action in the cultivation process.
    8. Prospect assignments are reviewed by the Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations regularly for progress in moving prospects from cultivation to solicitation to stewardship stages. Review of progress of assigned prospects is a key component in the ultimate evaluation of performance and program success.
  4. Categories of assignments – When prospects are requested for assignment, the requestor must request a category of assignment. The categories are as follows:
    1.  Qualification
      1. Pro-active research is identifying individual or entities who have significant giving potential.
      2. These assignments need a qualifying visit to determine interest and involvement for future prospect assignment.
      3. Assignment will be given at the Prospect Management Meeting for a three-month assignment.
    2.  Cultivation
      1. This is intended for the early stages of relationship building, but also applies to individuals in the process of making gifts over time.
      2. The standard for maintaining a cultivation assignment is a minimum of at least two substantive interactive substantive contacts (not birthday or holiday cards) in a 6month period.
      3. Interactive contacts/moves are defined as including but are not limited to staff visits, stewarding previous gifts, annual endowment reporting, joint attendance at sports and other events or quality time spent together at other university or non-university events, or contacts/moves by others designed and directed by the prospect manager.
      4. Contacts shall not be limited to one type of move for all prospects – i.e. events only.
      5. Cultivation assignment is given for six months.  If no substantive contacts are recorded in that time period, assignment is re-evaluated.
    3.  Solicitation
      1. This category is requested as the relationship progresses toward making a proposal or ask.
      2. The assignment is good for 6 months and may be extended if there is an appropriate need and further contact with the donor/prospect is required to meet the donor’s intent.
      3. Only one solicitation clearance per prospect will be assigned.
    4.  Stewardship
      1. Stewardship is intended to provide donors with continued thanks and attention. All donors to Delta State should receive stewardship as an end to itself and as the beginning of the next gift cycle.
      2. This category is especially important for “planned gift” donors – those who have a documented bequest or irrevocable deferred gift (no matter how small) in place.
      3. It is a special alert to the existence of a planned gift and can serve as a category for donors who are ill, frail, and/or desire little or no contact.
      4. Good judgment must be exercised in placing people in this category.  For example, a 35year old with a documented bequest for Delta State probably should not be in the category but rather should be involved in active cultivation for the next gift.
      5. A minimum of two substantive contacts per year are required per assignee.
      6. Only one assignee should be assigned for stewardship to a donor.  However, it is important for the prospect manager to understand the importance of involving others, as appropriate, in the stewardship process.
    5. The Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations and the Chief Development Officer will monitor and enforce standards of performance.
  5. Multiple unit assignments/Primary Manager
    1. Some prospects can be assigned to more than one fundraiser.  In circumstances where this occurs (generally because the donor has broad interests at Delta State), a Primary Manager (PRIME) will be assigned. Only  personnel of University Advancement & External Relations or the President’s Office  may be assigned as PRIME.
    2. The PRIME process is initiated whenever a second request for assignment to the same individual is made.
    3. The request for PRIME assignment will be made to the Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations.  The Vice President will determine who is best suited, among the assigned development personnel, to advance the relationship toward a gift. The requester must demonstrate the strength or nature of the connection to the prospect.
      1. It must be recognized that relationships can be fluid and that PRIME assignment can change as needed to reflect this.
      2. The PRIME role entails the following:
        • Responsible for maximizing a prospect’s institutional advancement potential.
        • Serving as a central communications link to the prospect and assigned personnel  and others.
        • Facilitating university contact with the prospect – this may consist of providing introductions, arranging a meeting with other Delta State staff members or administrators.
        • While a PRIME isn’t expected to deliver and discuss others’ proposals with a prospect, depending on the donor relationship, it may be appropriate, on occasion, to do so.
        • The PRIME is expected to develop an overall donor strategy reflecting all assigned unit goals and objectives as appropriate to the donor.
        • To facilitate section V. -C. 2. e., each assignee is expected to develop his/her own strategy, and review with the PRIME.
        • Each assignee is expected to file his/her own contact report and copy all assigned staff within 5 working days of the contact.
    4. In instances where discretion is required in decision-making and where there are multiple assignment interests, the Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations is vested with final decision authority regarding PRIME assignment.
  6. Professional conduct – PRIME assignment introduces one of the most critical aspects of the Prospect Management System:   COMMUNICATION
    1. Since demonstrated connection is required for any assignment to be made, and if the individual in question is already assigned to another employee, then there is an obligation to consult with the assigned employee regarding the nature of additional proposed contacts.
    2. There is no “ownership” of prospects since the prospects will decide for themselves what they wish to support, but there is “professional courtesy” in maintaining above- board relationships with peers in evaluating the donor’s interest.
    3. It makes fund raising business sense to consult with one another, as prospects will quickly become uneasy with relationships if it appears the employees are not coordinating with each other.
    4. There will be contacts that are made and recorded in Banner where the individual is not assigned in the prospect management system. While these prospects are available for any employee to contact, it is always wise to converse with any employees who have recorded contacts or have a designated affinity, as there may be good reason why the individual has not been requested for assignment.
  7. Major Gift prospect clearance/assignment process for an individual will be provided under the following guidelines:
    1. Prospect identified.
    2. Any existing system and file information is reviewed.
    3. If the prospect is unassigned initial contact MUST be made with the prospect to ascertain interest. If the prospect is assigned, check with any other assignees BEFORE scheduling a meeting.
    4. Before requesting assignment, a strategy plan should be developed working with or reviewed by the Chief Development Officer.  If others are assigned to the prospect, evidence of communication must be documented so that strategies are coordinated BEFORE requesting additional assignment.
    5. The strategy plan portion must be completed on the Request for Assignment form.
    6. Request for assignment will be reviewed by the University Advancement & External Relations  Office’s staff and additional information may be gathered.
    7. With input from staff at the Prospect Management Meeting, the request receives one of the following responses:
      1. Approved for assignment
      2. Assignment or level of assignment pended
      3. Denied assignment
    8. Monthly assignments will be emailed in spreadsheet format to all development staff.
    9. Solicitation is granted for a six-month period.
    10. In the event there is an urgent need to discuss prospect assignment or level of assignment in the period between one meeting and the next, the Vice President for University Advancement & External Relations and the Chief Development Officer will review the request.
  8. Prospect Management Meetings – Meetings shall be held twice a month to review all requests for new prospect assignments, to discuss any decisions to discontinue a prospect assignment, to share prospect information, review the results of most recent contact with assigned prospects, and discuss new potential unassigned prospects recommended by others inside and outside the institution who should be considered for qualification. Generally, such meetings will be attended by all staff assigned major prospects.  The Vice President of University Advancement & External Relations may excuse and/or invite others as he/she determines.


Responsible Office and/or Policy Owner: University Advancement and External Relations






Change/Review/Approval Date:

Policy Effective Date: 01/22/2018