Part One: Identifying New Donor Prospects

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Part Three: Cultivating New Donor Prospects

Growing Your Pipeline of Prospective Donors

The science of fundraising requires the identification of enough prospects at the necessary levels to reach your major gift objectives. That’s the beginning! Allocating time and resources to identify and qualify prospects is challenging for many organizations, but the return on investment is both important and necessary for fundraising success.

There are steps to growing your pipeline of prospective donors: identifying, evaluating and cultivating. Successfully completing each of these steps will put you on track to a healthier major gifts fundraising pipeline.

Cultivating New Donor Prospects

Cultivation: the ongoing education and involvement of potential donors with fundraising campaigns and overall organizational efforts. Cultivation is strategic and systematic. It occurs any time you communicate with your prospects. The purpose of cultivation is to interest and involve the prospect in your organization in order to create a positive environment for fundraising. Building a closer relationship with your prospect will put them at ease and allow you to raise their philanthropic sights. This process takes hard work and requires dedication – but it is worth it when you’ve reached your goal.

Below is a checklist we've developed to help you cultivate your donors.

  • Create a prospect management strategy for each prospect. This strategy should have a list of potential cultivation activities along with a defined timeline. A cultivation team, which includes a staff member and a volunteer, should be assigned to move the prospect through the cultivation process until they are ready to be solicited.
  • Encourage your board and development committee members to build and strengthen relationships with prospects.
  • Incorporate prospects in events and activities in which volunteers and staff are involved.
    • Examples include small group meetings, one-on-one meetings, networking receptions, cocktail receptions and other special events.
  • Establish communication strategies that maintain regular contact with prospects including mailings, publications, annual fund solicitations and invitations to events.
  • Continued involvement with enthusiastic members will establish a stronger relationship between the prospects, your organization and its members.

Find a way to involve the prospects in some part of the organization by using the information you gathered while evaluating donor prospects. Where might you need their advice or help? Is there a committee or task force that they could join? The greater their involvement; the greater their commitment.

Stewardship is an important part of cultivation. It is easier to get a bigger gift from a current donor than an initial gift from a non-donor. Ensure that you have a formal stewardship program to confirm that all donors are not only thanked, but are made to feel a part of your organization. If they feel that their gifts are well spent – and that their dollars have made a difference – they will continue to support you at increasingly higher levels.

Asking current donors for feedback related to their experiences in becoming first time donors can provide useful insight relative to your organizations’ fundraising strengths and weaknesses. Use the information provided to make improvements in your cultivation and stewardship process and increase your fundraising success for future solicitations or fundraising campaigns.

Now that you are equipped with the three steps to grow your prospective donors’ pipeline – implement them! The process of growing your pipeline of prospective donors allows your organization to grow with more constituents, funds, events and overall awareness. Fundraising is a science. With this formula, your organization will be better prepared to approach and involve the best prospective donors.

Interested in learning more about growing your pipeline of prospective donors? Inquire today to have the Prospect Research workshop conducted for your board, staff and volunteers.

© 2018 The Compass Group, Inc.