A Diverse Prospect Pipeline is Critical to Achieving Your Fundraising Goals
As an organization, do you reach out to the same group of donors year after year? Do you depend on your board to sustain revenues? Or are you just starting to grow your fundraising capabilities? Where do you start?
Building, maintaining and growing a diverse prospect pipeline is imperative to expanding your mission and achieving your fundraising goals. There are several important steps you can take:
1) Interview your Board of Directors, CEO and other major stakeholders
You have the best resources for finding new donors within your own ranks. Schedule an hour to sit down with each person. Come prepared with a list of prospects they may know—you could build this list through a relationship mapping tool or by looking at their other commitments online. Review each name, one by one, with your interviewee and discuss the likelihood of that person wanting to be involved. Ask open-ended questions like: “Do you know anyone from your workplace who may be interested? What about someone from your place of worship?” Follow-up and communication are key. Ask how they’d like to be engaged and involved moving forward.
2) Conduct an environmental scan
Scanning is a way to identify donors that are already funding in your space and in your community. Pull donor lists from annual reports or 990 forms of organizations with similar missions, and cross-reference to understand if they give to more than one organization in your space. If they seem to spread their giving around, that’s a sign that they aren’t loyal to one organization and may be open to hearing your pitch. Every donor wants to find a home, a mission that completes them… and that home could be your organization!
3) Focus on different types of prospects
Aim for a diversified portfolio that includes individuals, foundations and corporations.
High Net Worth Individuals: According to the 2018 edition of Giving USA, individuals made up 70% of all donations in the last year, and the percentage continues to rise. Is your organization reaping the benefits? Six-figure or even seven-figure donors could already be close at hand — in your database! By wealth-screening (for example, donors that have given $1,000 or more during the last five years) you may uncover individuals who have given annual modest gifts, but have the capacity to make a transformational commitment. Meet these individuals, thank them for their contributions and give them a vision to believe (and invest) in.
Foundations: Although the grant-writing process can be demanding, institutional giving is important to explore. There are many databases available to help you pinpoint which foundations fund missions like yours: Foundation Directory Online, Inside Philanthropy, and Foundation Search. Pay special attention to their current funding priorities and geographic focus areas to ensure that the foundation aligns with your mission. Once you’ve identified foundations that may be a fit, move forward by submitting an online Letter of Intent (LOI) or setting up an introductory meeting to establish a personal connection.
Corporations: Corporate philanthropy thrives on mutually beneficial partnerships. It’s important to identify corporate partners that not only align with your mission and will champion your work, but where you can also support their corporate social responsibility goals. Corporate funders typically participate by sponsoring a table at your annual gala, purchasing high-profile naming opportunities to promote their brand, or placing a senior leader on your board. The key is to get written into their annual philanthropic, marketing or executive budgets to lock in an ongoing commitment. While these may not be the largest gifts in your revenue stream, corporate partnerships are key to growing your relationships with the business community.
Take these steps to start building your prospect pipelines, and if you need help, call us. You will reap the benefits for many years to come.