A prospect doesn’t become a donor overnight. In fact, the process of cultivating a new donor can take months. During this time, your prospect is getting to know your organization, its mission, and its needs. At the same time, your organization is taking steps to get to know the donor and how they might be interested in getting involved with your work.
Thorough donor prospect profiles are invaluable during this time of cultivation and relationship-building. Prospect profiles allow you to distill all the details your nonprofit gathers about a prospect during the prospect research process—from an individual’s philanthropic background to their personal interests and business connections—into a collection of actionable information that guides the cultivation experience.
These donor prospect profiles will look different for every organization, but there are a few critical elements every profile should have to make it a useful tool for gift officers, whether for day-to-day donor cultivation tasks or a large-scale project like a capital campaign.
In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about creating perfect donor prospect profiles, including:
- Donor Prospect Profiles FAQ
- DonorSearch’s Prospect Profile Template
- Template Walkthrough: 7 Crucial Sections for Your Donor Profiles
We’ll also walk you through our donor prospect profile template, which you can use to get your nonprofit started with creating effective profiles of its own.
So, are you ready to learn more about these tools that can improve your donor cultivation strategy? Let’s dive into the specifics of donor prospect profiles!
Frequently Asked Questions About Donor Prospect Profiles
If your organization is just beginning to build out its major gift program or embarking on its first capital campaign, you likely have a lot of questions about prospect profiles. Let’s take a look at some of these questions to help you establish a foundational understanding of important donor cultivation tools.
What is a donor prospect profile?
A donor prospect profile contains all of the relevant data gathered during the prospect screening process, including capacity and affinity information, as well as any other details that a prospect researcher deems important for gift officers to know during the cultivation process.
You should think of donor prospect profiles as living documents. Once a gift officer begins the donor cultivation process, they can track any additional information as the relationship develops. This not only keeps your records up to date but sets new officers up for success should someone transition into the role down the road and need to be brought up to speed.
How do I create a donor prospect profile?
Creating a donor prospect profile starts with conducting thorough prospect research with the help of fundraising software. As you conduct your research, focus on the data that will be most important for gift officers to know when they reach out to a potential donor. Try asking yourself the following questions:
- What does the gift officer need to know about this prospect during the initial outreach phase of the cultivation process?
- Which pieces of data could serve as potential talking points with this prospect?
- What am I seeing in the data that could inform a gift officer’s first fundraising ask for this prospect?
During the prospect screening process, the prospect researcher is responsible for completing the profile as much as possible before passing on the record to a gift officer. But remember, a prospect profile can be updated both as your organization gets to know the individual and as they transition from prospect to donor.
As far as the format and structure of your prospect profiles go, your nonprofit can select a design that works best for you, as long as everything is consistent between various profiles. If you’re not sure what your profiles should look like or include, try using a template. Jump ahead to see DonorSearch’s full prospect profile template!
While it may take some time, your team will benefit from creating comprehensive prospect profiles, as you can approach the major gift solicitation process with a better strategy and easily transition prospects from one person to the next without risking miscommunication or information getting lost in the shuffle.
How do I use prospect profiles to boost my fundraising success?
Information is power, especially when it comes to connecting with prospects who have never given to your organization before. To convince them to give to your organization, you have to demonstrate that you’ve done enough initial legwork to get to know them as a person who would enjoy contributing to your work, not just a walking ATM machine.
Here are a few ways you can use your profiles to fine-tune your relationship-building work with prospects:
- Use contact information and communication preferences for a more natural outreach process.
- Leverage past giving history to make informed fundraising and engagement asks that are more likely to get a “Yes!”
- Track interactions with a prospect so that each touchpoint builds on the last.
In addition to this list of ways to put your profiles to work, remember that the more prospect profiles you create and use, the more you’ll learn about your nonprofit’s community of current and potential supporters. Creating profiles for real prospects can, for example, help your organization put your gift range chart to use or help you develop a donor persona.
DonorSearch’s Donor Prospect Profile Template
This prospect profile template includes space for the eight essential sections of a donor prospect profile. Download the template to begin filling it out, and jump to the section below for a full walk-through of all the elements!
Template Walkthrough: 7 Crucial Sections for Your Prospect Profiles
To get to know your prospective donors, you’ll need to look at many different types of data during the prospect research and screening processes. Once you’re ready to start compiling a prospect profile, you can organize your data into the following seven sections.
1. Introductory Details
This section is designed to quickly brief your team on the current status of a prospect. If someone were to flip open the profile, you want that person to be able to read through these first five bits of information and recognize where the given prospect falls in the donor pipeline.
Here you should record:
- Prospect Name
- Date of Interaction
- Giving Status
- Summary of Past Interactions
- Next Moves
Whenever your team interacts with a prospect, that should be noted under “Date of Interaction” and “Summary of Past Interactions.” Future plans and strategies to connect with that prospect should be listed under “Next Moves.” Since these interactions are what will help you build up a real, lasting relationship with a prospect, a quick write-up of those interactions should come first so you can build off of the last interaction and keep making progress with the prospect.
2. Basic Details
Basic details are essentially a prospect’s contact information. It’s critical that your team keeps these files accurate and up-to-date. If there are holes in your basic details sections for your prospects and donors, you should have your data appended to keep all your records in tip-top shape.
In this section you’ll include the following:
- Full Name
- Preferred Name or Nickname
- Phone Number
One of the most important pieces of information recorded in this section will be your donor’s preferred name. Nothing will get you off on the wrong foot like calling someone by the wrong name when you’re asking for a donation. Not knowing this basic information will communicate that you don’t care about the prospect as a person.
Note that if you’re an advocacy organization, you might also want to record social media handles and voting districts in this section. These identifiers will allow you to 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 personal networks and neighborhoods.
3. Personal History
As important as it is to know how to reach your donors, understanding them on a deeper level is key to building authentic connections with them. That understanding begins with knowing their personal history, which includes everything from information about education to capacity and affinity markers that indicate the prospect is likely to give to your organization.
Here’s what this section should include:
- Alma Mater(s)
- Connections to Foundations
- Real Estate Holdings
- Public Stock Holdings
- Social Club Memberships
- Community Involvement
- Hobbies and Other Interests
Remember, your organization will discover these wealth and warmth indicators through the prospect research process. Knowing about both kinds of indicators can tell you that your prospect not only has the means to give a large gift to your organization but also likely feels passionate about your cause.
It’s important to have this holistic view of prospects. Not only do you want to invite them to give, but you want to invite them to give to a cause that resonates with them and their values. Doing so will encourage more giving down the line!
4. Familial Information
This section will be all about your prospect’s family. The significance of this data will vary according to what your nonprofit’s mission is. There are two types of fundraising programs that could specifically benefit from an organization knowing about their prospects’ families—grateful patient programs and private and independent school fundraisers.
But even if your organization doesn’t facilitate one of these programs, each piece of data about a prospect’s family can deepen the level of personalization your organization can use when communicating with a prospect.
In this section, you’ll include:
- Name of Spouse
- Spouse’s Philanthropic Ties
- Spouse’s Professional Affiliations
- Key Details on Children
- Key Details on Other Relevant Relatives
Your prospects’ families are important to them. They should be important to your nonprofit, too. Even knowing a spouse’s name so that you can address invites to a couple rather than your prospect and a guest helps show your prospects that you care.
Plus, bringing your prospects’ families into the cultivation process can encourage a prospect to get their families involved with your work. If you express interest in their children, for example, they might bring them to volunteer or attend an event. Then, you’ll be planting seeds for the next generation to continue giving to your cause!
5. Professional Affiliations
With a comprehensive professional affiliations section, 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 discover that, you can then ask the board member to make an introduction for you.
Here are some key data points to include in this section:
- Employer Address
- Work Email
- Work Phone Number
- Estimated Salary
- Years with Employer
- Relevant Employment History
- Relevant Business Contacts
Aside from helping you form connections between prospects and those already involved in your work, professional affiliation information can also indicate whether a prospect’s employer offers a corporate giving program. Imagine the potential gift size if you notify a major donor that their contribution will be matched by their company! Some companies also offer volunteer grants, which turn volunteer hours into donated funds for your organization.
6. Organizational Connections
In this section of the donor prospect profile template, you can pinpoint exactly what motivates your prospect’s philanthropy and how strong their bonds with your specific cause and nonprofit are. In other words, this section can provide more information about a prospect’s affinity for your work.
For a brand-new prospect, this category might be completely blank. You’ll want to revisit it as you cultivate the prospect and they become more engaged in your organization.
In this section, you’ll include:
- Date of Last Gift
- Amount of Last Gift
- Total Number of Donations
- Average Gift Size
- Board Membership
- Hours Volunteered
- Relationships with Others Involved in Your Organization
Past giving and involvement is the strongest indicator of future giving, so tracking these details will make a huge difference when you’re scouting for major giving candidates in your donor pool. Plus, you can use past experiences with your nonprofit to spark inspiration and motivation to get involved again.
7. Philanthropic Ties
While you have the strongest chance of securing a donation from someone who has already given to your organization, someone who has a giving and involvement history with another nonprofit has great potential as well. Especially if the prospect in question has donated to causes similar to yours, your nonprofit is in an excellent position to acquire that donor.
Here are the pieces of affinity-based information to include in this section:
- Charitable Giving Elsewhere
- Volunteering Elsewhere
- Board Membership Elsewhere
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who is an active donor and supporter of another organization. The nonprofit sphere doesn’t operate as a zero-sum game; many people are willing to support more than one organization at a time, especially when the cause is near and dear to their hearts.
With fully fleshed-out donor prospect profiles, your organization will have everything it needs to effectively cultivate relationships with prospects that lead to long-term engagement and giving, whether you’re starting a capital campaign or taking on more day-to-day work. Plus, as you revisit and update your prospect profiles on a regular basis, they’ll serve as the source of truth for your team members to truly get to know your prospects and donors.
Use our template to get started collecting information about individual prospects, and make sure to be as thorough as possible. You’ve got this!
Looking for further reading? Here are some resources we recommend:
- 16+ Prospect Research Tools To Find More Donors For Your Org. You can’t conduct thorough prospect research without the right tools! Learn more in this guide and get our top recommendations.
- Creating Your Nonprofit Annual Report: Full Guide & Template. Building a nonprofit annual report can be a challenging yet rewarding part of running a nonprofit. Use this guide to learn how to create an annual report that showcases your organization’s progress and inspires more support.
- Nonprofit Fundraising Metrics: 32 KPIs to Measure Success. Tracking fundraising KPIs can help your nonprofit monitor its progress and prepare for future success. In this article, you’ll learn about the metrics your organization should be tracking!