So your organization mails to the same group of prospects for your annual giving program year after year, looking at LYBUNTs, SYBUNTs, etc., continuing modest upgrades or asking for the same amount time after time. Or you continue managing in your portfolio, the same major gift and planned gift prospects and don’t see any additional prospects to fill in your pipeline that have identified potential or inclination. If this sounds like your organization, then it may be time to do some sort of analysis of your database to help uncover some potential upgrades to your annual fund and major/planned gift prospects to assign and qualify in your portfolios.
By looking at the characteristics of those who give to your organization already, you can see who else in your database might be able to as well as inclined to give at various gift ranges to your organization, thus filling in the pipeline for smaller annual gift levels, major gift levels, planned gift opportunities, and even those who are in the middle of your gift pyramid.
There are many options for doing this, whether you embark on a statistical analysis on your own or hire a vendor to do this analysis. Many smaller to mid-sized nonprofits are not going to find it economically feasible or have the staffing in place to do something like this in-house, so they will want to look at a predictive modeling vendor to help them analyze their database. I do highly recommend that you look for a company that has vast experience in analyzing fundraising data for nonprofits, as well as providing direction on how to utilize the results.
If you are a larger nonprofit with a more sophisticated development office, fully staffed for prospect research/management, and even have someone with statistical analysis experience and the software to do this (SAS for example), then you may consider taking on an analytics project in-house. If you are looking at resources on learning about analytics, please check out my blog from April 2013, The Self-Taught Analytics Professional.
Keep in mind that if you don’t analyze your database every few years at least, you are leaving potential fundraising dollars on the table. By not distributing major gift prospects to your gift officers now to contact and qualify, then 6 to 12 months down the line, those potential gifts will not be in the all important solicitation stage, where you may be realizing untapped major and planned gift potential for your organization. Keeping a fresh and continually filled pipeline of prospects to qualify makes sure that you avoid donor fatigue by contacting the same group of prospects year after year for your major gifts program or capital campaign.
Also think of your annual giving program, and by not replenishing your program with newly upgraded prospects as well as identified prospects for potential acquisition, you may be looking at lean subsequent years, devoid of growth or maybe even a decrease in dollars raised. Keep in mind many of your loyal annual donors, especially those that upgrade and show a greater financial commitment to your organization, will be your future major and planned gift donors, so not cultivating these annual and mid-level donors now may hinder more fruitful gains in the future.
The bottom line is that investing now in your prospect pool will pay future dividends, ensuring that your nonprofit can continue its important mission.