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4 min read

Moves Management: Managing relationships the clever way

Moves Management: Managing relationships the clever way

Put simply, Moves Management is a method of managing relationships. Whether you’re working in Fundraising, Sales or you just need to focus on developing some key business relationships, Moves Management is a great way to do this. Chances are you’re already using some of the tools and concepts of Moves Management, but there’s probably a lot more you can do.

The term Moves Management was coined by David Dunlop from Cornell University, who described it as the idea of changing people’s attitudes so they want to give. Most importantly, David talks about how we change motivations to give rather than providing the means. Do we focus on what might motivate a person to give to our organisation, or is our first reaction to think about whether we have, or could develop a project, they’d like to fund?

As the landscape around arts funding changes, we need to work even harder to ensure the right work is funded by the right people. Many of us have fewer opportunities to create projects to attract funding and need to find funding for our core work. Moves Management is all about building relationships between individuals and your organisation and inspiring individuals to support your work.


What are the key concepts of Moves Management?

The ‘management’ part is all about moving someone from prospect to donor. The ‘moves’ are the actions you take to make that happen. But day to day, what does that involve?

It’s a strategy to manage a small number of prospect donors

Managing a relationship in detail takes time, thought and energy. Whilst using Moves Management will keep you efficient and make sure your time is well spent, you probably can’t use this method of relationship management to manage hundreds of relationships.

But, you can use these tools to manage a small number of key prospects. Whether you do low or high-level fundraising, we all have time to strategically manage some important donor relationships.

It’s a custom strategy for each prospect

Most donor relationships last years, and it can take anything up to five years to move an individual from prospect to donor. To make sure your time is best spent, you’ll need to strategise the relationship and move it along. Things will always change along the way, but you need to start with a solid strategy.

We all know that each donor relationship is as individual as the donors themselves. But it’s easy to forget that what might work best for you (a series of three cultivation events a season, for example) doesn’t work best for all your donors. Moves Management requires us to think about each donor individually and build a strategy around what motivates them.

It’s well documented and not kept in someone’s head

Once you have your strategy, you need to write it down. Whether it’s in your CRM system or a spreadsheet, it needs to be documented and easily accessible to everyone in your team.

We’re all guilty of keeping information in our heads about our donor relationships. How often have you been for coffee with a prospect and not recorded detailed information about the conversation? How often have you forgotten to record all the touchpoints you’ve built into your strategy? One of the concepts of Moves Management is that you record what has and needs to happen so at any point another member of the team could pick up managing that relationship.

Recording this information also means you can measure what works and what doesn’t. From knowing who has the biggest influence on your prospect to starting to measure how long it takes to move an individual from prospect to donor, this information is valuable, ensuring you can be more efficient in future and forecast accurately.

It’s not about you, it’s about the donor

This is key to successfully moving people from prospect to donor. And something you probably think you’re already doing, but are you really putting your potential donor first every time?

Often, our first thought when thinking about an action such as emailing a prospect, organising an event or arranging a meeting is to look at when we’re free. But have you ever had a look to see when your prospect donor usually replies to your emails? Or when they usually attend events at your venue? If they usually reply to your emails on Tuesday afternoons, why are you emailing them when you’re free on Friday afternoons? If they only ever attend events at the weekend, maybe a midweek cultivation event won’t work for them.

It might sound a little over the top, but what if you moved your cultivation event to fit in with when you think the most important people will be free? Yes, this might mean working at a weekend, or convincing your colleagues to hold an event on a Thursday instead of the usual Friday evening. But, if it means your key prospects are more likely to be there, it could be worth it.


Who is the Moves Manager?

This role is best fulfilled by someone who has the time and skills to build a strategy for developing relationships. Often that’s someone in the fundraising team, but it might be someone else.

Managing a relationship is different to being in the relationship. Yes, you’ll often find that you are the key point of contact for any prospects or donors. But, there are occasions where, try as you might, a prospect donor responds better to other people. This might be your Chief Executive, or Artistic Director, another donor, a board member or even the wonderful front of house volunteer who’s been with your venue for 40 years. Whoever it is, it’s your job as the Moves Manager to coordinate the relationship between your organisation and the prospect

This means you’ll keep track of who needs to do what, and when. In this sense, you manage all the moves around the individual, ensuring the right touchpoint happens at the right time, while not actioning all the moves.


Sounds like a lot to take in?

top tips you can start straight away:

1. Find some prospects

You’ll need to decide who to use this relationship building method with. Pick a few prospects and make a note against their record that you’ll be using Moves Management to develop these relationships.

2. Get to know your prospects

Dig around your CRM system and find out some basic info about when your prospect donors open, read and reply to emails (don’t forget to check your general marketing emails as well as the ones you send) and when they usually attend events. Make a note of this info against their record and keep it in mind next time you plan a ‘move’.

3. Plan and record your strategy

For each of your prospects, plan and record a strategy that covers the next two years. This includes thinking about all the touchpoints from quick phone calls through to cultivation events and meetings. Get a plan in place so you can start preparing. Yes, the plan might change, but it’s better to start with one than make it up as you go along.

Moves management will help you be efficient with your time and, in the long term, result in more supporters who are more engaged. Give some of the tools a go ad see how it impacts your donor relationships.


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Kate Mroczkowski is a former member of the Spektrix team