How to be Wise in Major Donor Prospecting

Wise BoyFrom the Author of Opening the Door to Major Gifts: Mastering the Discovery Call (Charity Channel Press)

Regardless of how new donor prospects come to a non-profit organization — whether through a special event, direct-mail donation, or an online gift — they should be reviewed or screened to determine whether or not they might be financially capable of making a major gift. The review can be accomplished through a committee of volunteers with knowledge about the donor population, a wealth screening provided by a vendor, or a combination of the two. All available resources should be tapped. Having said that, while volunteers can be helpful, my experience has indicated that they are usually happy to provide advice but often reluctant to help you make personal contact with a prospect. Further, while wealth screening can give you some indication of a prospect’s ability to give, it tells you nothing about one’s inclination to do so.

My point is that while no available assistance should be overlooked, when it comes to qualifying prospective major donors, the professional fundraiser must always be prepared to do the “heavy lifting.” If you believe a prospect may have the ability to make a major gift, that person must be qualified through a personal visit, and more times than not that chore will fall to the fundraiser. For the organizations that do use volunteers to qualify prospects, congratulations and well done. Even in such cases there is still always going to be a portion of the prospect pool that can only be qualified without such assistance.

In addition to verifying capacity, the purposes of the qualification call are to determine 1) the strength of the prospect’s interest in, or affiliation with, the non-profit organization and 2) the prospect’s inclination to consider a major gift, given appropriate cultivation.

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Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Love this – such great advice about the practical nuts and bolts required for our organizations to succeed in securing major donor support for the long haul.


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