We all dream of the ultimate goal in fundraising, a major giver who endows our organization with millions. We hope he or she will walk into our door one day and plop down a check.
But, of course, it doesn't often happen that way. In fact the best source of a major gift is a donor you already know. Try looking at that donor in a new way and you might uncover your major giver right away. Anthony Powell, author of a chapter in Major Donors: Finding Big Gifts in Your Database and Online, suggests three indicators that you should look for as you size up your donors.
- Identify a Donor's Capacity
Capacity is usually the deal breaker qualifier for major gift prospects. Gauging a donor's capacity helps determine the gift range you might ask. Ask yourself these questions about your major gift prospects:
- How much is the donor worth and how much can he or she give?
- What is their income, what investments do they have, and what assets do they hold?
- What are their financial obligations--perhaps they are already committed to large gifts to another organization, or do they have business debts?
- Identify a Donor's Inclination
How generous is this donor? How involved in civic affairs?
- Identify a Donor's Linkage
Starting with a current donor who already has a relationship with you is easier and the most cost efficient way to find a major donor. Your best prospects are likely to be found in your own database.
- Are these donors consistent givers? Do they have a high lifetime value?
- Have they or their families been the recipients of your services? Are there other ways that they are involved with your organization?
- Do they volunteer? Go to your events? Evangelize to others about your organization and mission?
Powell points out that prospects that score high on all three of these indicators should get your full and immediate attention. Prospects that are deficient in any one area might be more suited to the annual fund or even left unsolicited. As Powell says, "Bill Gates may have the world's highest capacity rating, but if he has no linkage to your organization and no inclination to give to your cause, is he really a viable prospect?"
Major Donors: Finding Big Gifts in Your Database and Online, Ted Hart et al., Wiley, 2006. A 21st Century update of prospecting for major gifts. Includes information on prospecting internationally as well.