There’s rarely a bad time to perform wealth screening or other forms of prospect research; at the start of a new calendar or fiscal year, prior to a major campaign or right after a first-time gift. Knowing as much about a donor as possible increases the chances for upgrades, renewals, major gifts, bequest giving and other legacy gifts.
Since you likely have hundreds or thousands of past and current donors in your database, it can be difficult to decide who to focus on. Which donors are the best ones to research, and for what kind of gift, and for how much?
Below are my favorite three prospect groups, which are often overlooked.
1. Multiple Year Donors
Depending on the size of your donor file, these may be donors who have given two years in a row or three years in a row.
Obviously, any of the donors who have given more than three times are even more ideal major gift prospects. You may also want to consider the average gift size in order to provide a manageable group size to do your research upon. For instance, only those who have made gifts of $150 or more could be another filter.
The mere fact that there is continuous giving, no matter what the size of gift, places these donors in the minority of total donors. Such dedication in the age of so many giving opportunities points to a special connection and passion to your cause.
2. Multiple Year Volunteers
These individuals, and yes, sometimes companies, are what we all initially think of when anyone mentions passion for the cause. And yet, we sometimes struggle or don’t think to ask volunteers for donations, even though they have clearly (physically) demonstrated that passion.
This group is often ignored even though the chance of legacy giving may be higher than any other group. Just imagine how special the research find is if there is also wealth or large giving to other charities identified within this sub-group!
3. Previous Board and Committee Members
Time and time again, this oh-so-valuable alumni group is neglected in some manner or totally by nonprofits. Hopefully, they will already fall into the two groups above, but that is not always the case.
This group combines inside knowledge with a personal passion to create quite a unique and unbeatable combination. I have witnessed complete capital campaigns where many members of this group were totally ignored instead of reaching out to them for lead gifts. Targeted research on this group could make quite a difference.
Passion for the Cause
Using such segmentation as outlined above allows even a small-to-medium-sized nonprofit to perform the economical one off look-ups offered by most prospect research services. This is the case because of the narrowing of the focus to those who meet one of the most important criteria of any successful major gift solicitation, passion for your cause!
No matter what wealth or previous giving to other nonprofits is identified without some amount of passion for your mission the chances of success are diminished greatly.
Notice that such passion is the common thread of the three groups outlined above.
Please try such segments and let us know if they lead to success for your major gift program. Are there any other key groups we missed? Let me know in the comments below!