Most nonprofits have a standard process in place for building a relationship with a new donor. It’s likely that your organization does too.
The flow is probably relatively standard: someone donates, they receive a thank you, they’re added to your email stream, they might receive an event invite, etc., etc.
However, many nonprofits are not as well-equipped to handle when they have a sudden surge of new donors. Whether you have a campaign go viral or there’s an event that causes a peak in interest in your cause, your nonprofit should be prepared to properly steward all new donors, even if they come in bulk.
For example, consider the current situations in Houston, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Caribbean. Four separate hurricanes have tragically taken many lives and destroyed entire regions and communities.
First, Harvey hit Houston and brought with it severe winds, rain, and flooding. Then, Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean with record-breaking intensity. Everywhere Irma made landfall, from Barbuda to Haiti to Florida, felt the storm’s power and experienced immense devastation. Next, Hurricane Maria built steam as it moved along a course very similar to Irma. Maria hit Dominica and neighboring islands, and then absolutely pummeled Puerto Rico, ravaging the U.S. territory.
Most recently, Hurricane Nate hit regions in Central America, including Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and caused at least 28 deaths before moving north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hurricane Nate has officially made landfall in the U.S., largely affecting Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, causing flooding and mass power loss.
It is absolutely devastating. And many folks who have not historically been charitable donors are admirably stepping up to help the relief effort (learn more here and here).
As a result, many of the nonprofits serving those communities are experiencing a spike in donations and new donors. Those nonprofits now have an opportunity to bring great assistance to the areas affected by the hurricanes, and if they are strategic about how they steward their new donors, they’ll be able to continue providing vital services to the region for years to come.
Recovering from Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate is going to take years, and the nonprofits in the impacted cities need every donation possible to aid in their regions’ rehabilitation.
It’s a very real and very sad example of exactly why nonprofits need to be ready to make the most of their new influx of donors, with a proper plan.
To help you put that plan in place, we’ve compiled 3 effective strategies:
The success of your fundraising campaign relies on whether or not your nonprofit has put in the time to develop a comprehensive, data-driven fundraising strategy. With the right fundraising plan in place, the more likely you’ll be able to extend the right asks to reach likely donors and achieve your fundraising goals.The secret to an excellent fundraising strategy? Consider making the most of a gift range chart.
Commonly used during the feasibility study phase of capital campaigns, gift range charts are useful tools for fundraising campaigns of any size. With this simple tool, you’ll learn exactly what it will take to successfully reach your fundraising goals.
Even better? Your gift range chart can show your nonprofit where you need to improve in your fundraising strategy, whether or not your fundraising goal is too ambitious, and where to focus your fundraising strategy.
Before your campaign begins, you’ll be able determine the optimal size of your asks, the breakdown of your ideal prospects, and which donors you should be engaging.
In this post, we’ll help you get the most out of your gift range chart by discussing:
Are you ready to learn how to use gift range charts to bring your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy to the next level? Let’s get started!
1. Why you should use a gift range chart.
Without question, gift range charts should be a part of your fundraising strategy arsenal (if they aren’t already). Despite their deceptively simple design, gift range charts can tell you a lot about your fundraising strategy, especially if your nonprofit is looking to embark on a capital campaign.(Looking to sharpen your fundraising strategy? Consider working with a fundraising consulting firm to revamp the way your nonprofit raises money for your cause.)Specifically, gift range charts can let your nonprofit know:
This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. To diversify our subject matter, we like to feature the work of our friends and colleagues in the community. Join me in welcoming Jennifer Filla, the CEO of the Prospect Research Institute and President of Aspire Research Group LLC. Please enjoy her post!
Here are five ways prospect research can help with donor solicitation.
Fill in the blanks.
Segment your asks.
Know how much to ask.
Determine other giving opportunities.
Find major gift donors and planned giving donors.
1. Fill in the blanks
It’s going to be tricky to ask for a donation if you don’t have a prospect’s phone number, email address, or home address.
Let’s say that Donna Donor submitted her email address at your last gala as part of a raffle that night. But an email appeal doesn’t seem to be the best way to ask Donna to give to your organization. She might have the potential to be a major gift donor and would need an in-person meeting if you really want to make an impression.
Besides, it’s a good idea to have accurate donor data anyway. When you send out invites to fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, or other events, you’ll want to make sure that you’re sending out those invitations to the right addresses.
Address a donor by their correct name.
Have the right address on the envelope.
Include relevant information that is appropriate for that particular donor (i.e., an acknowledgement of a previous donation)
=&4=&Use prospect research to fill in the blanks on your donor data when sending out those event invitations and when you go to make your donation appeals.
2. Segment your asks
Not every donor is going to respond in the same way to an email or a direct mail appeal.
Still others prefer more traditional methods, like sending checks by mail or giving in person.
Once you’ve filled in the blanks on your donor data, you’re in a better position to segment your supporters into different groups depending on their giving preference.If you notice that some of your donors regularly respond to the email appeals you send out, continue sending them those email appeals. You might notice, on the other hand, that some donors have never responded to an email appeal but donate every year when you send out your annual appeal in the mail.You’ll know that you can take them off your email appeal list and make sure they receive the annual appeal and other campaign information in the mail.
=&4=&Use prospect research to learn more about which communication channels donors prefer and segment your donation appeals accordingly.
3. Know how much to ask
Not every donor is going to give the same amount on a regular basis. Some may prefer donating $10 a month while others might be able to give $5,000 in one annual check.Knowing how much donors have given in the past to your organization, other organizations, and political campaigns can give you a pretty solid indication of how much to ask in your future appeals.And prospect research can give you all of that information!Donors are always going to have the final say when it comes to actually making a donation. But having information about their past giving patterns puts you in a great position to make suggested giving amounts that are appropriate.Additionally, knowing how much a supporter has given to your organization in the past allows you to thank them for that donation before making your appeal for another contribution. Being thankful is one of the most important facets of donor solicitation. Before asking for another donation, make sure that you’re saying thank you for those previous contributions!
Developing prospect profiles on your various high-quality giving candidates is a necessary step in managing a fluid transition from prospects to donors.
Your prospect profiles will contain all of the relevant data you gathered during the screening process. With comprehensive profiles, your team can easily transition prospects from one person to the next, without risking miscommunication and information getting lost in the shuffle.
The prospect researcher is responsible for completing as much information as possible before passing on the details to a gift officer. Once the gift officer begins the donor cultivation process, he or she then tracks any additional input and changes as the relationship develops. That way, if a new officer were to step into the role, he or she would be automatically brought up to date.
Prospect profiles are going to vary from organization to organization, but we wanted to give you an idea of what to expect. With that being said, this blog post will talk you through the various components you may or may not want to include in your profiles. The level of depth for your various profiles will be largely dependent on how extensive your prospect research is and what you learn during cultivation.
DonorSearch’s Prospect Profile Template Sample is divided into seven categories.
This category is largely designed to quickly catch a reader up on the current status of the prospect.
Its sections include:
Whenever a prospect is interacted with, that should be noted here and future plans should be listed under “Next Moves.” If someone were to briefly open the profile, you want that person to be able to read through these first five sections and recognize where in the donor pipeline the given prospect falls.
2. Basic Details
Basic details are essentially contact information.
Its sections include:
It is critical that your team ensures that these fields are accurate. Successful donor communications rely on current and correct contact information.
The first step to building a relationship with someone is to call them by their preferred name. Nothing will get you off on the wrong foot by calling someone by the wrong name when you’re asking for a donation. It makes them feel like you don’t care about them as a person.
Special note: if you’re an advocacy organization also using an advocacy-specific CRM like CQ Engage, you might also want to keep things like social media handles and voting districts in this section. These identifiers will allow you to more easily target your donors and supporters with personalized communication strategies for region- or online-specific grassroots campaigns. These details will also make it easier for you to mobilize your advocates because they can champion your cause in their own neighborhoods with your help.
3. Personal History
As important as it is to know how to reach your donors, you have to understand them on a deeper level. That understanding begins with the personal history category.
Its sections include:
Connections to Foundations
Real Estate Holdings
Public Stock Holdings
Social Club Memberships
As you can ascertain from looking at the above list, personal history involves a combination of wealth markers and other characteristics that will help your fundraisers better get through to your prospects. You want to know a donor’s interests and history, as well as his or her giving capacity. The personal history category helps on both fronts.
4. Familial Information
As you can probably guess from the title, familial information is all about what details you have collected on your prospect’s families.
Its sections include:
Name of Spouse
Spouse’s Philanthropic Ties
Spouse’s Professional Affiliations
Key Details on Children
Key Details on Other Pertinent Relatives
The significance of familial data can change according to what kind of organization is seeking the information. Two types of fundraising programs could certainly benefit from learning more about their prospects’ families. Those programs are:
Each piece of data broadens the scope of the level of personalization your organization can cover when communicating with a prospect. Your nonprofit should know a spouse’s name, so that you can address invites to the couple, rather than your donor and guest, for example.
Your donors’ families are important to them. They should be important to your nonprofit too.
5. Professional Affiliations
Professional affiliations, just like familial information, can render pivotal details.
Its sections include:
Work Phone Number
Years with Employer
Relevant Employment History
Relevant Business Contacts
With professional affiliations right in front of you, you can not only gain a firmer understanding of a prospect’s giving capacity, but also uncover potentially valuable connections.
One of your board members, for instance, could work with a high-quality prospect. When you realize that, you can then ask your board member to make an introduction for you.
Additionally, a donor might be employed by a company with a generous corporate giving program. Imagine the potential gift size if you notify a major gift donor that their contribution will gladly be matched by their company! Some companies also offer volunteer grant gifts, which would donate funds to your organization based on hours that an employee has spent as a volunteer for your nonprofit.
As you can tell, the opportunities stemming from researching this list of facts for a donor are varied and plentiful.
6. Organizational Connections
This is the point in the profile where you delve into exactly what motivates your prospects’ philanthropy and how strong their bonds with your specific cause and nonprofit are.
Its sections include:
Date of Last Gift
Amount of Last Gift
Total Number of Donations
Average Gift Size
Relationships with Others Involved in Your Organization
Article written by Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President at DonorSearch.
Heraclitus said it best when he stated, “Change is the only constant.” Although it is not always welcome, the sooner we accept and embrace change, the better our lives are. That platitude, though easier to take in theory than practice, certainly applies to the way that organizations handle staff transitions.
Nonprofits and educational institutions, just like any other type of employer, have to deal with important staff members leaving and the ramifications of those exits.
Putting plans in place to handle and account for the transition of employees, especially senior staffers and leaders, is critical to the ongoing success of an organization. Staff turnover is inevitable. Transitional success is a matter of preparing for and adjusting to the change.
For a nonprofit, one of the most valuable roles within the organization is that of the prospect researcher. When it is time to transition to a new researcher, you’ll want to be ready to make the process as smooth as possible.
The best approach to handling a prospect researcher staff transition follows three steps.
These steps cover the entire cycle of the transition. Step one should occur before the prospect researcher leaves the position, step two will happen as the transition is occurring, and step three is to be performed once the turnover is complete.
Step 1: Implement Standards and Systems
This is a preemptive step. It is helpful in general and especially useful when your organization is experiencing change.
Standards and systems make a position transferable.
Prospect research is an extensive process.
On any given day, your current prospect researcher could be:
Putting together prospect profiles.
Ranking prospects according to giving affinity and capacity.
Determining the right ask amount for a certain donor.
Assisting the fundraisers with solicitation strategies.
This blog focuses on the world of prospect research and various related fundraising topics. Today, we’re happy to welcome a contribution from Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, regarding the recent report, Mastering Major Gifts. Please enjoy!
Major Gift Study Shows Prospect Research Matters
Did you ever stop to ask yourself, “Does prospect research really matter? And, is it worth the cost?”
A new study of more than 660 small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations says YES!
Dr. Adrian Sargeant and Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, set out to answer the question: Can small and mid-sized organizations (with budgets of $10 million or less) really raise major gifts? And if so, how?
Answers are revealed in the results of a new research project – click here to download the free report.
One of the key findings was the importance of your major gifts pipeline, and who is in it. To put it another way, having too many first time, prospective donors can be harmful (in the short term) to your bottom line.
New Donors Cost Money
To be more exact, for every additional new, prospective donor in a major gift pipeline, it was costing an organization, on average, $300.
In other words, new donor acquisition is an investment. And, if you’re going to be making the investment, you want to do so carefully and with the right prospects.
That’s where donor research comes in.
Cultivating Existing Donors Matters
The study also showed that every additional subsequent donor in a major gifts pipeline (i.e., working with your existing major gift donors) resulted in an additional $2,200 in major gifts.
The average prospect list for survey participants was around 20 people, so picking the right 20 is an important task. Prospect research will help you determine exactly which individuals belong in your pipeline at any given time.
Prospect research helps inform your decisions about who goes into your major gifts pipeline, which could mean the difference between securing major gifts or not.
We’d like to thank DonorSearch for being a valuable partner to the nonprofit sector in conducting this important research.
How have you used prospect research to fill your pipeline and secure major gifts? Let us know how.
If you’re interested in learning more about major gifts, we suggest that you read DonorSearch’s Guide to Major Gifts.Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, has been a development professional and fundraising consultant for more than 15 years. Recognized as a leading expert in her field, she’s helped small and large nonprofits alike raise millions of dollars through major gift and capital campaigns, board development, annual fund campaigns, direct mail, and planned gift solicitations. Amy’s primary mission is to make nonprofit development simple. She helps you clear away the complexity and raise funds much more effectively.
A prospect without an interest in your cause isn’t much of a prospect at all. A prospect with a strong interest in your cause is the strongest type of prospect you have.
#2: Philanthropic Propensity
There are prospects hiding everywhere, donating to causes just like yours, and are essentially great donor candidates in waiting.
Someone who has a proven commitment to nonprofits is going to be more likely to donate than someone who does not.
Consider the two following examples:
Holding a board seat for another nonprofit.
Charitable giving outside of your cause.
Let’s discuss those one at a time.
First — Holding a Board Seat for Another Nonprofit
Think about all that holding a board seat entails. If you’re looking for philanthropic propensity indicators, this is as good an indicator as any.
Members of a nonprofit board clearly understand the ins and outs of nonprofits. They know what it takes to run a successful organization. Board members also inherently have a demonstrated vested interest in charitable work. They certainly know the value of philanthropy.
Second — Charitable Giving Outside of Your Cause
In terms of indicators, this is a runner up behind giving to your organization specifically. Past donations mark prospects as people of action. They may not have donated to your cause yet, but that could be for a reason as simple as lack of awareness.