One of main items I have carried over from my days of working with a nonprofit organization is always keeping the budget in mind.  Especially when you are working with a very limited budget or as I commonly refer to as “working with bear skins and stone knives!”  Donor prospecting or data mining can be done not only smartly but within a tight budget.

Obviously we want to start with our database or CRM.  Looking from within your organization is frankly not only your number one move but your smartest move.  This is why it is imperative that we collect accurate and detailed data on our prospects.  Ensure that all contacts and interactions with the prospects are logged so you have a detailed history.  You should always be thinking of what kind of information will help be segment and qualify our prospects and donors.  It is never too early or late to gather information.  For instance, if you are a higher education institution you might want to be gathering where your students lived because that can be helpful as you work on campaigns to renovate dorms.  The information you gather should identify affinity and connection to your institution or capacity to make a gift.

Conduct peer screening with all concerned parties.  Most organizations use their board which is a great group to work with but don’t forget your staff regardless of their title.  A development assistant with a long tenure with your organization can be very valuable!

Consult your colleagues at other institutions and see what they are doing and don’t forget to ask questions!  I recommend getting on the list-serv PRSPCT-L which is a great place to find out about great resources and a great place to ask questions.

Limiting the number of subscriptions is another great way to maximize your budget.  If you have multiple subscriptions to one publication, see about sharing with the team.  Use the savings to access additional resources that are not currently being utilized.

Finally, don’t operate or purchase resources that are only based on cost.  You need to list the benefits of all the products being considered and determine what truly fits your needs.  Some resources can identify your next five or six figure donor and it will pay for itself and then some.  I think it is important to view your purchases as assets or investments and not as an expense.  Remember, assets and investments can increase in value!

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