Identifying Your Best Prospects—They are Closer than You Think

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Major Gifts – Beyond the Solicitation Series – Part 6

Are you having trouble finding new major donors or even prospects for new first time gifts?  Welcome to the club!

For a variety of reasons, donors exhibit an ever-increasing level of anxiety when asked to contribute to —for them—a new organization, no matter how compelling and worthy the enterprise and its mission may be.  Without “new donors” you will find it increasingly difficult to fund the charitable investments vital to your organization and its ever-changing, growing demands.

So, if people are not making new, first time gifts, where are you finding new major donors and the money to achieve your goals?

Jerry Panas and Bill Sturtevant, giants in the philanthropic universe, taught me long ago that it requires nearly five times the effort, staff, and dollars to acquire a new donor as it does to retain one. Yet some nonprofits seem to spend more time and energy pursuing a new giver than making the effort to keep the old friend happy and engaged.

We know that with proper planning you can retain your donors. It has been demonstrated that with effective development and stewardship, you can be certain of an enthusiastic donor base and high retention.  Following this six-step plan will help to create a culture of giving at your organization.  And the key to your success is to be found in your donor database.  Your new donors in this coming year are most likely to come from that wonderful group of people who supported you in the past, but have not done so in the last year or even in the past few years.

How do you resurrect their support?

Step 1: Segment Your Donor Database to identify those with the highest likelihood of renewing their support.

Step 2: Engage Your Board to review the lists of prospects to see where they can help.

Step 3: Create Gateway Events to re-engage these once faithful supporters.

Step 4: Make a Follow Up and Involve Call which is the single most important step to create lifelong donors

Step 5: Plan Your Work and work your plan in a disciplined manner.

Step 6: Celebrate Achievements by informing all your partners—volunteers and staff—of every step that you get closer to goal.

If you would like to receive an expanded, detailed six-step plan, send me an email at and I will forward it to you.

NEXT MONTH: Getting to Know Your Donors: Using & Understanding Prospect Research
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