Brock Silvey and the Case of the Zombie Proposals

Zombie proposals are a thing, not just at Northwestern University, but everywhere! A zombie proposal is when you have submitted a major gift proposal to a donor prospect, but there has been no movement since the ask. There has not been a “no,” “maybe,” and certainly not a “yes.” There is no movement.

We might speculate on all sorts of reasons a major gift proposal might turn into a zombie. But as Brock Silvey points out, behind every zombie proposal is a relationship between a gift officer and a donor prospect that is human, real, and needs to be respected.

So, if you’re not going to simply bury the zombies, what should you do?

Apparently, you should communicate better and more frequently.

It always feels like a let-down when data analysis reveals a truth that once spoken sounds exactly like common sense – except that no-one had the sense to say it before the data analysis!

Follow the trail of prospect management clues and find out the tactics Brock has been using to help the gift officers he works with to close their zombie proposals.

Resources Mentioned

How One University Used Data to Eliminate ‘Zombie Proposals’ and Improve Big-Gift Fundraising | by David Lively and Brijesh Jani | The Chronicle of Philanthropy | Feb 2023