Q. I am the Executive Director of a small musical organization in metropolitan Boston. We have just set new guidelines and gift levels for our fundraising effort that we hope to implement fully by 2006…


One of our board members just handed me a program from a recent concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra that contains a listing of all their major donors and corporate sponsors. Should we pick up the phone and start making calls?

A. A list of donors from a similar organization can be helpful to you as you seek to further your cause, but not by cold calling or mass mailing. Never assume that if a person gives to one organization, he/she will give to another with a similar mission.

Should you throw out the list? No. Begin by seeing if any of your donors also support the BSO. It is a great way to gain further insight into your current donors, or identify some of your donors whom you would like to target for an increased gift. Looking at another organization’s donor list will show you other places that your donors support. Additionally, you may gain information about a specific donor’s capacity to give – a necessary step in any major gifts effort.

If you are sure that this list is filled with your potential donors – send a copy of this list to your board and leadership. Does anyone already have a personal relationship with anyone on the list? Have these “connectors” invite the potential donors to an interesting, intimate event at which they could really get to know the organization and its leadership. Have a coffee before a rehearsal or a cocktail party at a board member’s home. This personal approach will more likely get a personal and qualitative response and, hopefully, a few new major donors.