Prospecting 101 – There's No Place Like Home | npENGAGE

Prospecting 101 – There’s No Place Like Home

By on Oct 4, 2012

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Prospecting Starts in Your Own House

“Oh Auntie Em… there’s no place like home!” Dorothy Gale was onto something I think. There are many ways to prospect for potential major donors, but the first place may be in your own fundraising database. Predictive modeling, wealth screening, data appends, internet searches, etc. are all excellent tools for prospecting, but many nonprofit organizations just do not have the budget to take on these types of services or the people to manage it. A great place to start is by segmenting your own database. Try querying a list of the following:

  • Have recent giving, including LYBUNT and SYBUNT (look at past three years)
  • Gave 2+ gifts to your organization
  • Increased the most recent year of giving in comparison to the average of the past three or so years of giving
  • Are recent mid-level donors

Here are six tips to help you further

  • Tip #1:  Recurring gifts, such as payroll deductions, should be counted as one gift per year
  • Tip #2:  Larger social service or disease/disorder-related nonprofits may have to look at multiple gifts to cull this to a manageable list given the nature of giving to these institutions
  • Tip #3:  Only include those who have given memorial gifts if they have at least one more gift to your institution in the past three years
  • Tip #4:  Look at total giving in 2008 for your mid-level donors, as this was just before the official start of the recession and when the stock market started to decline
  • Tip #5:  Your organization may need to re-evaluate both mid-level and major giving thresholds, depending upon if the economic downturn has affected recent giving
  • Tip #6:  You may have exceptions to whether or not a donor’s recent year of giving increased over the average of the last three years, for example someone who completed a larger pledge payment three years ago and now this year are back to typical annual contribution levels

You can loosen or tighten your criteria based on the number of prospects you are looking to identify and eventually qualify, so this will depend upon the bandwidth of your organization. Also some of the criteria above may have either ‘AND’ statements or ‘OR’ statements. Depending upon your staff time, you can also do some very basic pre-qualification work by doing searches in Google. For helpful tips on this, check out Melissa Bank Stepno’s blog, Effective Internet Searching.

Remember, this is just a first place to start and when budget and timing permits, I recommend your organization look into doing a predictive modeling project. This can be an extremely helpful tool in identifying additional future major gift potential that internal database segmentation cannot discover, as it utilizes data characteristics outside of your CRM system to describe your future major gift prospects. Happy prospecting!

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