Carnegie Mellon University

Prospect Management

Policy Title Prospect Management Policy
Policy Owner Vice President for University Advancement
Responsible Office University Advancement, Advancement Programs and Services
Contact Information

Questions concerning this Policy or its intent should be directed to the Associate Vice President for Advancement Programs and Services in the Division of University Advancement; 412-268-2620.

Pertinent Dates This Policy was approved on August 18, 2016. Administrative changes were made October 2018.
Approved By The president of Carnegie Mellon University.
Entities Affected By This Policy Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff.
Who Needs To Know About This Policy

This Policy governs gift officers, alumni relations officers, and other Carnegie Mellon University employees who interact directly with fundraising prospects and volunteers.

The Policy is also relevant to management partners such as the president, provost, deans, and other university faculty and staff members who play important roles in developing and maintaining relationships with prospects and volunteers.

All staff who work in advancement-related roles, including but not limited to those providing support to gift officers, should also understand this policy, especially as it relates to the prospect assignment process.


Donor:  An individual, foundation, non-profit organization, business/corporation, or other entity that makes a charitable contribution to the university.

Prospect:  A prospective donor to the university, including current donors who may make additional philanthropic commitments to the university in the future.

University Advancement (UA) Management Team:  Group composed of the Vice President for University Advancement, his/her direct reports, and other designees of the vice president.

Forms / Instructions n/a
Reason for Policy / Purpose

The Prospect Management Policy seeks to provide guidance to all university faculty and staff who work with donors, prospects, and volunteers. The policy helps ensure the university’s philanthropic relationships are managed in a collaborative and professional manner that will maximize the university’s ability to secure and steward donations, fully engage its constituents, and ultimately fulfill the mission of the university and the donors’ philanthropic goals.


This Policy outlines the key roles in fundraising; prospect assignment, reassignment, and inactivation; and portfolio management. In addition, it provides requirements associated with the integrity of prospect-related data and information, among other topics. This policy and its related procedures help provide donors and prospects with seamless cultivation, solicitation and stewardship experiences, leading to lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with the university.

Policy Statement

  1. Key Roles in Fundraising

    In order to manage the university’s relationships with its prospects, University Advancement oversees the assignment of staff, faculty, and volunteers to the following roles:
    1. Prospect Relationship Manager (PM) — Each assigned prospect will have a unique PM, who is typically a member of the fundraising staff employed by the university. Couples will be managed by the same PM and will be counted as a single prospect for portfolio purposes. In addition, prospects who are members of the same family will generally be managed by the same PM (e.g., siblings and parents/children); however, these prospects are counted separately for portfolio purposes. The PM is responsible for developing a strategy for each assigned prospect that is consistent with the university’s comprehensive fundraising plans, and for ensuring that the strategy is implemented in an efficient and timely manner. The PM will either have the primary personal relationship with the prospect or will help guide/coordinate the actions of other university personnel or volunteers involved in the relationship. Contacts with prospects by other advancement personnel must be cleared through the assigned PM.
    2. Strategy Leader (SL) — Prospects may also be assigned an SL. The SL, who is not a member of the fundraising staff (e.g., the university president, provost, deans, or faculty leading key initiatives), is assigned to inform strategy and share content with the PM. They may also lead the personal (face-to-face) relationship with the prospect. An assigned SL is not required for every prospect. A prospect may be assigned more than one SL.
    3. Secondary Relationship Manager (SM)  The SM is a member of the advancement staff who shares an active role in the fundraising outcome of the relationship. In the case of prospects who are assigned to the UA Management Team, this may include college-based gift officers. More than one SM may be assigned to a prospect. SMs may share in the credit for fundraising metrics, as appropriate.
    4. Planned Giving Advisor (PGA)  The PGA is a staff member of the Office of Gift Planning assigned to assist the PM when planned giving discussions are anticipated or occurring. Only one PGA can be assigned per prospect at a given time.
    5. Volunteer — A Volunteer is an individual who is not employed by the university who has agreed to help facilitate the university’s relationship with a prospect. Multiple volunteers may be assigned to a single prospect.
  2. Prospect Management, Reassignment, and Inactivation

    As a foundational principle, all prospects are prospects of the university. The Vice President for University Advancement, or his/her designee, currently the Office of Advancement Prospect Management and Research (“Prospect Management Office”), shall assign prospects based on the assignment rules outlined below. Should questions or special circumstances regarding prospect assignment arise that are beyond the scope of this policy, the Vice President for University Advancement will have the final responsibility for making prospect assignment determinations.

    1. Assignment
      Prospects will be typically assigned to PMs in the college of primary affiliation. This includes fundraisers employed in University Advancement who represent a specific college, school, or program (hereafter referred to collectively as “college”). 

      This principle notwithstanding, the following categories of prospects will be specially reviewed by the Prospect Management Office to ensure the most appropriate assignment:
      1. Members of the Board of Trustees, President’s Global Advisory Council, and other presidential advisory committees.
      2. Prospects with high capacity ratings, who have demonstrated multiple interests across the university.
      3. Prospects who are prominent or influential figures or who have a high-profile relationship with the university.
      4. Prospects with demonstrated interest in university initiatives, or general university programs, such as Athletics, Students Affairs, the Libraries, etc.
      5. Prospects with a primary interest in planned gifts may be assigned to fundraisers in the Office of Gift Planning.
      6. Prospects whose primary residence is located outside the continental United States may be assigned to fundraisers in the Office of International Development.
      7. Prospects who are parents only (i.e., parents of current/former students who have no other university affiliation) will be considered for assignment to fundraisers in the Office of Parent Engagement and Development as a first priority.

      The PM, college chief advancement officer, and Prospect Management Office may consult with each other prior to any additional assignments being made for a prospect, namely: strategy leader(s), secondary relationship manager(s), planned giving advisor, and volunteer(s). However, in cases where a college-based gift officer is not the PM, the college dean may be added as a strategy leader and/or the college chief advancement officer (or his/her designated college-based gift officer) may be added as a secondary relationship manager, as appropriate.

    2. Reassignment

      Prospect reassignment will be managed by the Prospect Management Office, in consultation with chief advancement officers and PMs. Reassignments are typically made when fundraisers suggest or mutually recommend a reassignment, when there is a staffing change, or when a prospect is not being actively managed by his or her current PM during a 12-month period. Other cases include, but are not limited to, a prospect’s status change (e.g., becoming a trustee or member of the President’s Global Advisory Council or other presidential advisory committee), a rating change, relocation to a region outside the continental United States, or another significant shift in the prospect’s relationship with the university.

    3. Inactivation
      The Prospect Management Office (in consultation with the relevant college chief advancement officer, when appropriate) will make decisions regarding prospect inactivation. If a PM determines that a prospect should be inactivated for any reason, that prospect’s name must be brought to the Prospect Management Office for review, together with a written rationale for why the prospect should be inactivated. In select cases, the Prospect Management Office may choose to reassign the prospect to another fundraiser rather than inactivating the prospect.

      Inactivated prospects are still maintained in UA’s database of record and may be reactivated at a future time. Inactivation will occur automatically when the Prospect Management Office learns that a prospect is deceased.
  3. Portfolio Management

    1. The Prospect Management Office, in consultation with the UA Management Team and college chief advancement officers, will establish guidelines for the appropriate numbers of prospects that should be assigned to different types of fundraisers. These guidelines will inform individual fundraiser performance plans.
    2. In addition, each college may maintain a portfolio of reserved unassigned prospects from which college-based and centrally-based gift officers can draw to help fill trips. These unassigned prospect pools, defined by college affiliation, will be created and maintained by the Prospect Management Office. Each such portfolio will be managed by the college’s chief advancement officer. The chief advancement officer is expected to review the unassigned prospect pool, in consultation with the Prospect Management Office, on an annual basis.
  4. Integrity of Prospect-related Data and Information in Database of Record

    It is the responsibility of the PM to keep prospect-related data and information up-to-date in UA’s database of record, including but not limited to:

    1. Contact Reports: The PM’s interactions with a prospect (e.g., visits, phone calls, letters/emails, etc.) must be documented in contact reports. In addition, the PM is responsible for ensuring/confirming the entry of contact reports for interactions by other individuals assigned to the prospect (e.g., strategy leaders, secondary relationship managers, and volunteers) or involved in some other way. The Prospect Management Office will hold the PM accountable for appropriately documenting prospect contacts. Contacts should be entered into UA’s database of record within 5-10 business days of the activity.
    2. Prospect Stage: The prospect must be moved through the four main relationship stages: qualification, cultivation, solicitation (ask made), and stewardship. It is the responsibility of the PM to determine when a prospect moves from qualification to cultivation, or if the prospect should be inactivated. Prospects are automatically moved into the ask-made stage when a proposal has been submitted to the prospect and has been entered into UA’s database of record. Prospects are also moved automatically into the stewardship stage when a pledge is booked (but is not paid off). PMs are notified when a pledge is paid and determine if the prospect should move back into cultivation at that time.
    3. Campaign Target: The campaign target is the estimated total amount of Carnegie Mellon gift solicitations for a particular prospect during a university campaign. Note: This dollar figure (not a range) is initially calculated via an algorithm; however, PMs (with supervisor or program head sign-off) can override the algorithm with a custom entry.
    4. Inclination/Engagement: The prospect’s estimated level of overall engagement with the university (High, Medium, or Low). Note: This rating is calculated via an algorithm; however, PMs (with supervisor or program head sign-off) can override the formula with a custom entry.
    5. Proposals: The PM is responsible for ensuring that all proposals are maintained in UA’s database of record. This includes anticipated proposals, proposals in development, submitted (“outstanding”) proposals, and closed proposals. A closed proposal must have a status of Approved, Rejected, Inactivated, or Withdrawn or Anticipated Withdrawn. Most major gifts should have an associated proposal in UA’s database of record, and it should be entered into the database no later than the date of proposal submission.
    6. Prospect Interest: The PM is responsible for maintaining special initiative information on his/her prospects. Special initiatives are areas of focus for the university that relate to its strategic plan. Prospects can have multiple prospect interest codes in UA’s database of record.
  5. Prior Approvals and Independent Efforts
    1. The university recognizes the various ways relationships develop between prospects and university administrators, faculty members, Advancement personnel, other university staff, students, and volunteers. That history is often a primary reason a prospect becomes more engaged with the university. Despite this reality, it remains in the best interest of the university for members of its community to ensure coordination of efforts. Pursuant to this policy, the PM is responsible for coordination of such relationships, and must be consulted by other members of the university community prior to embarking on any new engagement or fundraising strategies.
    2. The university further recognizes that university administrators, faculty members, Advancement personnel, other university staff, students, and volunteers will identify new prospects. The names of new prospects should be relayed to UA’s Prospect Management Office in order to ensure that there are no current relationships or strategies pending with those prospects; that a record is created for each new prospect in UA’s database of record; and that actions are in compliance with this policy.