First, what are we really talking about when we say moves management?
Wikipedia says, “moves are the actions an organization takes to bring in donors, establish relationships, and renew contributions.”
So, moves are what the fundraiser does. Ah! Moves are activities. I get it! Fundraisers achieve their goals if they develop plans for their activities. Moves management in fundraising is the development of plans and activities to raise money.
But then Wikipedia continues by saying, “David Dunlop, the Cornell University senior development officer who developed the concept of moves management, described the idea as “changing people’s attitudes so they want to give.”
Is that what moves management is really all about? Persuasion?
Even David Dunlop once said, “People start ‘making moves’ and making a game of moves, rather than really recognizing the process that we’re a part of is inspiring people to do the things that we believe they would want to do anyway. Really helping them accomplish what is consistent with their values and interests. It’s a different perspective than fancy asking or skillful asking.”
Structure and process.
Ok. So I’m all in when it comes to making strategic plans for each donor. Doing so is smart because it keeps a fundraiser focused on who and what is important. It helps them think about the individual needs of each donor, how they can add value for each donor and how they can make each donor feel good. This kind of thoughtful donor-centricity and careful planning helps fundraisers stay on task so they generate money to support the good work of their organizations and institutions.
The system works because it helps fundraisers remain patient, persistent and attentive to donor needs as they pursue worthy goals.
Plus structure and process yields results. In the 2017 Major Gifts Benchmark Study (an effort I funded), it was determined that fundraisers using a consistent process to identify prospects are more likely to achieve their fundraising goals. So structure and process are essential if you want results.
For-profits do it too!
For-profit businesses use something called TAPS (Target Account Planning Strategies). The idea is very similar to moves management and applies to large deals.
Sales people and/or their managers select target accounts. Then they do their homework to learn about the needs of all the influencers involved in the decision (since each of them might experience different pain points that need to be addressed and served). Next, they develop step-by-step plans for communications and engagements that help align the sales person’s solutions with the needs of those people. Their plans include dates, responsibility assignments, and milestones.
With TAPS, a spirit of partnership is essential (just like in moves management).
So why am I concerned?
The first time I heard the phrase moves management I thought the process might involve trickery and manipulation. As a donor, I wondered, “Are they making moves on me? Are they trying to manage me?” No one really wants to feel like they are being played, right?
Now before you start typing an angry response to this post telling me you are insulted because you are not a manipulative louse, remember, Wikipedia said David Dunlop described the idea as “changing people’s attitudes.” Let’s face it, there’s a very thin line between persuasion and manipulation.
Of course, you and I both know that there’s no underhandedness going on here. But, for some, the inference remains and I have definitely met fundraisers who believe it is their job to move donors through the consideration process rather than to help the donors move themselves by providing engagement offers that deliver value. [See #4 of my 8 components of engagement fundraising for more on this.]
Am I just splitting hairs?
Although the phrase ‘moves management’ is just an in-house term, I guess I just don’t like it. Sure, thanks to alliteration, the phrase sounds great. It flows from your lips to your manager’s and board member’s ears so nicely. But I just can’t get the thought of fundraisers manipulating donors out of my mind even though that’s not what they’re doing.
I know, I’m not a fundraiser. So maybe I’ll never ‘get’ it. I’m just the CEO of a for-profit business (but I am a donor).
What do you think?
Are they really moves? Aren’t they really actions, tasks or activities? Why confuse things and possibly lead some to wonder if they’re being manipulated? Do you like the phrase? Do you use it?
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