Build Your Fundraising Prospect Portfolio Wisely
The role of a fundraiser is not easy. In fact, to be a true resource development professional, it takes years of experience, practice, trial and error, and in-depth research. It would be so easy if I could walk into my office each day and have appointments already scheduled with the best prospects possible. For most, that is a wonderful dream. Fundraising execution is a process that includes proven methodology. You may have a database of thousands of names, and even low-level donors, in front of you. How do you reduce this stack of paper into a concise list of the best potential fundraising prospects?
DonorSearch is an organization that many fundraising professionals rely on for answers to prospect identification. This company says the secret to a successful fundraising campaign is identifying the right prospective donors. According to DonorSearch and based on an analysis of $5 billion in known giving to 400 nonprofit organizations, the top five data-driven predictors of future giving are:
- Past charitable giving to your organization
- Past charitable giving to other nonprofit institutions
- Involvement in nonprofits as a foundation trustee or director
- Political giving
- Real estate ownership
A Fired-Up Fundraising article on the top six indicators for what makes a great prospect noted the five indicators previously mentioned plus business affiliations. These affiliations can give you insight into a donor’s professional relationships. There is a correlation between salary and giving capacity. A donor’s position in the company can also indicate the possibility of influencing corporate philanthropic decisions. If you have corporate information about the prospect’s connections, you might be able to secure new matching gifts, challenge grants and additional employee giving. This also might lead to additional organizational partnerships and potential volunteerism.
In addition to the attributes previously mentioned for potential significant individual donors, you need to build a solid and targeted prospect list from your database. According to another Fired-Up Fundraising article on golden strategies for major gifts, go to your current donors first to see which individuals made mid-level gifts during the past two years. Start with your most committed donors, and determine through interaction why they are giving. Look for people who have wealth and affinity for your cause. Focus on your top-level donors with the greatest capacity to give. Create a pool of targeted prospects that you can manage and develop sound individual strategies for personal solicitations.
While creating your targeted prospect pool to solicit, according to Classy, establish a moves management program. Identify the strongest prospects and prioritize your potential donors based upon ranking those that are more likely to give a large gift and be receptive to relationship-building.
Your narrowed list in your potential portfolio of prospects will share three major attributes: affinity, ability and access. Affinity depends on how connected the prospects are with your organization through giving, volunteering and event participation. Research is needed to determine how you can create a deeper relationship with these prospects. Ability means each prospect must have the ability to make a gift at a larger level.
Wealth screening tools can provide some insight into this question. Other indicators of a donor’s financial capacity include their age range, marital status, occupation and whether they have children. Access is simply what it means. Do you have access to this individual through the board, staff or network that could open a door for you? Ask those in your organizational orbit to review lists of potential prospects and donors and provide feedback for you.
Prioritize your prospects based on whether they are A prospects, B prospects or C prospects. A prospects have all three attributes, B prospects have two out of three attributes and C Prospects have one out of three attributes. A prospects are your most promising prospects. Develop engagement and cultivation strategies for all three groups. You must deepen their involvement with your organization over time based upon a move’s management model.
Build your prospect portfolio wisely. This portfolio should not be larger than 150 prospects. In fact, at times the smaller the better. Employ a moves management system. Look at your total donor base and employ indicators to have the highest qualified prospects in your portfolio. Determine which prospects are the best prospects and rank your portfolio. Seek to have as many positive and potential indicators for large gifts embedded in each donor prospect as possible.
Once your portfolio is established, do continuous research on each donor prospect and develop individual solicitation strategies. The ongoing process of creating an active and dynamic portfolio employs art and science techniques. Remember that your portfolio will contain prospects that have just been identified and are being qualified, prospects in the cultivation mode, prospects in the solicitation mode and donors in the stewardship mode. Build your portfolio wisely. and you will attain greater long-term success!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.