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Development Guide:
Prospect Management

Giving News

Prospect Management Policy

This policy covers only individual prospects and, as applicable, related family foundations.  Corporate and foundation donor prospects will be addressed in the next phase.


The Prospect Management Program at The University of Texas at Austin provides a foundation for maximizing fundraising efforts, driving solicitation and cultivation strategy and providing a foundation for individual, unit, and campus goal setting processes.  Furthermore, it should strengthen our commitment to being transparent, donor focused, and collaborative. The program is focused on driving solicitation of individual prospects for major gifts of $100,000 or more.

Guiding Principles

  • Focused on solicitation of major gifts ($100,000+)
  • Collaborative
  • Donor-centric
  • Transparent
  • Hybrid structure between Office of Vice President for Development (VPD) and fundraising programs in the Colleges/Schools/Units
  • Goal-setting and management tool for Deans and Chief Development Officers

Portfolio Criteria

The following are the guiding tenets for portfolio establishment at UT Austin:

  • Before a prospect can be assigned to a portfolio:
    • The Development Officer (DO) must have had an initial visit with the prospect; and
    • The DO must have an established, written strategy for the solicitation of a gift of $100,000+ within the next 36 months; or
    • The donor has made their pledge or gift and is now in stewardship
    • These criteria apply for both primary and secondary manager assignments
  • If multiple DOs request assignment:
    • For prospects where multiple units meet the above criteria and request assignment, a central DO will serve as the primary manager (see Prospect Manager Roles); rare exceptions require approval by the VPD
    • If only one unit DO and a central DO request assignment to a prospect, the primary assignment will default to the unit DO unless the unit asks central to staff the prospect
  • The portfolio size should range from 50 to 150 prospects, with a maximum of 150 total allowed:
    • Maximum number of “primary” prospect assignments is 100
    • Maximum number of “secondary” prospect assignments is 50
    • It is understood that spouses/partners typically make decisions regarding major gifts as a household.  Therefore, when a DO becomes the primary manager of a prospect, he or she will automatically be assigned as the PM for the prospect’s spouse/partner and family foundation, when applicable.  This will count as only one prospect assignment in the total portfolio count.
  • The makeup of a portfolio should be 75% of prospects in cultivation and/or solicitation (both stages require a written strategy) and 25% of prospects in stewardship (see Stages). Exceptions can be approved by the VPD.
  • Prospects not visited in a 12-month period may be removed from a portfolio and assignment transferred to another DO as applicable.

Prospect Manager Roles

  • Primary Managers (PM) are responsible for coordinating the cultivation and solicitation of prospects and for developing strategies to maximize their potential philanthropic support for the University.
  • Secondary Managers (SM) are assigned to address prospects’ affinities for multiple areas of the University or when additional development resources (such as Gift Planning) are needed. They must coordinate cultivation activities and solicitations with the primary manager.
  • Both PMs and SMs must have filed a written strategy to solicit prospects for a $100,000+ gift within 36 months and have a visit every 12 months at a minimum.
  • When multiple units meet the criteria for prospect manager assignment, a central DO will be assigned to serve as the PM. In such cases, the central DOs are responsible for coordinating and tracking a unified cultivation and solicitation plan that serves the best interests of the prospective donor and the University, and they are exempt from the initial visit/12-month maintenance visit rule.

Research Analyst Roles

Research Analysts (RA) are partners with their assigned DOs in the portfolio management process.  They work closely with DOs to:

  • create and maintain optimum portfolios;
  • identify new prospects to feed the prospect pipeline;
  • provide customized research and analysis to inform prospect strategy;
  • analyze and interpret vendor wealth screening and predictive modeling data; and
  • assist DOs in tracking and reporting progress toward their goals.


  • Cultivation = prospect manager has a written strategy documented in the system for a solicitation of $100,000+ within the next 36 months and is making ongoing, substantive contacts with the prospect
  • Solicitation = prospect manager has presented prospect with a written proposal or gift agreement; verbal gift conversations are considered cultivation (and not solicitation)
  • Stewardship = A pledge or gift has been made and the prospect is not likely to be solicited for a new gift within 3 years. DOs may develop new $100,000+ strategies for donors who are in stewardship and move them back into the solicitation cycle.

Visit & Solicitation Protocol

  • Before contacting an assigned prospect, an interested DO is responsible for a courtesy call or email to alert the PM of their planned contact. It should be assumed by both the PM and the interested DO that all such contact has a purpose of cultivation, stewardship, solicitation of a gift (regardless of level – above or below the $100,000 threshold). It also should be assumed that the PM will grant access unless the proposed contact is within 6 months before or after a solicitation.
  • In cases of a prospect with multiple interests, every effort should be made to submit one comprehensive and coordinated proposal, as directed by the primary manager.
  • Proposals must be presented to prospects in writing. This can include emails, letters, formal proposals or gift agreements.  Verbal solicitations are not recorded in the system or counted towards DO metrics.
  • Solicitations for gifts of less than $100,000 may still occur, but they are not tracked in the portfolio management system as formal proposals and prospect management assignment is not taken on these donors. These solicitations should be documented in contact reports.  DOs are also responsible for checking relevant information in the system to make sure their solicitation will not interfere with other in-progress or planned activity.  Gift requests of less than $100,000 to donors who are actively managed must be coordinated thru the PM.
  • Professional courtesy and collegiality are expected of all DOs.
  • This policy does not cover contact for purposes of selling gala tables, athletic tickets/suites or other sponsorships.

Contact Reports

  • Contact reports are essential for recording substantive contacts with prospects and donors and tracking their movement through the solicitation cycle.
  • Contact reports should document activity that moves a prospect toward a gift; information concerning a prospect’s ability and/or inclination to make a gift; and/or significant stewardship activity with a donor.
  • If someone else in a CSU makes the contact (for example, Dean, faculty or volunteer), the CSU DO is still responsible for recording the information.
  • Contact reports should be concise yet informative and contain at a minimum the following information: participants, purpose, results, needed follow-up.  Biographical information that provides further insight into a prospect’s ability, interest, and readiness to make a major gift should be included.
  • Typically contact reports should not be generated for routine contacts that do not move the prospect closer to making a gift, such as routine or mass mailings (holiday or birthday cards), phone calls to schedule a visit or routine event attendance that is not an important part of the cultivation effort. Routine event attendance does not count as a “scheduled visit.”
  • Contact reports will often include information of a confidential or sensitive nature. With that in mind, DOs should use discretion when entering information regarding sensitive subjects such as family matters, health issues, and personality traits.  Do not include information that you would not want the prospect to read.
  • Contact reports record important information for historical purposes, and at this time, will be the mechanism for tracking and recording solicitations for gifts of less than $100,000.
  • Contact reports should be filed within five business days of the action.
  • Actions that occur but are not documented in the system will be presumed to have not occurred.

Updated April 3, 2017

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