Don’t Go Trick-or-Treating Everywhere: First Identify YOUR Major Gift Prospects

By Julie DeLong 

Just as when your kids trick or treat on their own street first with the neighbors they know, begin your major gifts campaign by doing the research and targeting your best prospects first.

In today’s fast paced development department, it’s important to keep focused on the smart and strategic ways to meet your goals. After all, meeting the mission depends on you and your team! Take a breath and make sure that you are targeting the right donor pool for your major gift campaign.

First of all, look at the philanthropic indicators of your potential major gift donors. This includes looking at the top predictors of future giving:

  • Past Gifts to Your Organization
    • What have they given to your organization?
    • How well have you stewarded them as donors?
  • Past Gifts to Other Nonprofit Organizations
    • What other organizations are they giving to and what else do they care about?
  • Involvement in Nonprofits as a Board Member, Trustee, or key volunteer
    • Are they involved in nonprofit work?

Once you have these philanthropic indicators mapped out you can move to examining wealth-related indicators. While it’s certainly not a perfect science, it’s a place to start. Some of the most popular donor databases even have wealth rating tools built in. There are so many variables that come into the picture around charitable giving that we can only ‘do our homework’ and go from there.

  • Political Giving
    • Top indicators (Donorsearch, 2015) say that anyone that has made a $500 gift to political campaign is 5 times more likely to give a philanthropic donation than someone who has not.
  • Real Estate Ownership
    • Real estate ownership is a wealth marker, but a philanthropic indicator as well. The more the value of real estate ownership, the higher the likelihood of philanthropic giving.
  • Business Affiliations
    • What someone does for a living is an indicator and who they connect with in the business world can be helpful too.

Remember that one of the most important aspects of this work is trust in the organization and the individuals that are involved. If prospects are tied to a current donor or someone who is close to your organization, you will gain their trust a lot more quickly. Identify your prospects and move through the cultivation process to get your major gift campaign rolling. Happy Fundraising!