Recently several people have asked me about prospect research—how to find and manage new potential donors. After asking some questions, it became clear that these organizations were thinking more about new prospects than they were about renewing or increasing past donors.
When I mentioned this to Keith, he said that in the last three trainings he’s done, this question of finding prospects has also come up. He said the same thing I did—that fundraisers don’t realize they almost always have these major-gift prospects identified: They are current donors.
While it’s great to keep the pipeline full with new possibilities, you have to look in your current donor files first. Are there past board members, donors, or volunteers who haven’t been engaged in a long time? We addressed this in our most recent fundraising tip, but it’s also important when you’re visiting with current leaders and donors to ask them who else you should be talking to.
Those conversations go a long way, both to steward current and past donors and to engage them in helping you identify new prospects. In the end this won’t be cold calling because your donor might help open the door to these new friends. I know we say it a lot, but major gift fundraising is a continuously evolving relationship. It’s all about growing your organization’s circle of friends.