Q. We have a large prospect list that we have accumulated over time from many sources. How can we fully utilize this asset?

Prospect list imageA. A large prospect list is often a greatly underutilized resource at small and mid-sized nonprofits.  Developing the list has often taken time and a lot of human power. But simply having a large list is of no value unless you mine it for all the potential donors, volunteers and lay-leaders that it contains.

The best way to manage the list and maximize its potential is through an organized game plan.

Step 1: Print out the prospect list making sure to leave a large space next to each name for relevant data.

Step 2: Photocopy the list for anyone close to the organization who might be familiar with the people. That can and should include top-to-bottom staff, board members and/or the development committee.

Step 3: Ask each participant to look through the list and write down any useful facts about the prospects. These can include reasons they may or may not be making a gift this year, special interests and/or connections to current board members or volunteers.

Step 4: Ask each participant to go through the list again and rate each person with whom they are familiar. The scale should be simple, such as 1-4 with “1” being people they know have means and have demonstrated interest in the organization and “4” being those who have something in their lives that will prevent them from giving at this time.

Step 5: Give someone the task of compiling the data.  And creating a new list arranged with the strongest prospective donors first.

Step 6: Have the executive director, development director and development committee review the new list to determine if current relationships have already been formed between current staff/ volunteers and the prospects.

In addition, this step should include listing previous contacts with these individuals as well as the circumstances.

Step 7: Create a plan of action, including staff/volunteer assignments, for contacting individual people as well as each segment of the list.

Step 8: Provide solicitor training for those involved.

Step 9: Check with each person involved to ensure they understand the schedule for contact, follow-up, record-keeping and relationship management.

Step 10: Begin to use your list to recruit volunteers and solicit gifts.