Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ideas that Work - Prospect Review

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Where do we look first?
Strategies for seeking support.

When I begin to seek funding, I start with two basic tenets in mind –
Know the number and size of donations needed to meet the need
Start with the prospects with the greatest interest and capacity

When considering the gifts needed, one should remember that fundraising is NOT egalitarian. Usually a $60,000 goal is not met by 100 $600 gifts, it is met by PROPORTIONAL giving – donors giving in accordance with their relative ability.
This is where a gift table comes in. Consider the $60,000 goal. Given a Learning Center’s history of donations, this goal might be met by securing:
One $20,000 gift
Two $10,000 gifts
Three $5,000 gifts
Four $1,000 gifts
Ten $500 gifts
Numerous smaller gifts

Using this as a basis, the next challenge is to determine who, if properly motivated, could donate at these levels. This is the point of prospect review. There is a simple tool for this process that I have developed over 25 years of fundraising work. It is the Prospect Review Matrix. To do this effectively, do the following exercise:
  • 1. Gather together a list of all the potential donors you can imagine for your Learning Center. Include present donors, board, Masonic bodies, active Masons, foundations, parents, philanthropic people in the communities, service clubs and any other possible supporter.
  • 2. Select a committee of people who have reasonable insight in the capacity of this list (the board as a whole might do this).
  • 3. On a sheet of paper, draw a square divided into 9 boxes (like Hollywood Squares). Then place the following numbers in the boxes:
  • 531
  • 742
  • 986
  • On the vertical side of the square write $ and an arrow pointing up each row denotes a financial level (let’s say for this example, $250-$999, $1,000-4,999, $5,000+). On the horizontal side write interest and an arrow pointing left each column denoting the prospect’s perceived interest – low, medium, high. This is the Prospect Review Matrix.
  • 4. As a group review these prospects using the matrix as a guide. Only those who have knowledge of the prospect should render an opinion. Record the number associated with the consensus review, i.e: Prospect A is capable of a $2,500 gift and is highly interested in the Learning Center – on the matrix, that would render a review of “2”.
Once you have finished, group the prospects by review number. You now have a prioritized list of prospects. Start by deciding how to see the prospects from “1”s to “6”s. Consider how much to solicit each prospect by what you need and their ranking. Go see them, remembering what Benjamin Franklin said about prospects when raising money for the first public hospital in this country, “A third will give what you ask for, a third will give less, and a third won’t give.”

If you want help with this model please contact me at spekock@scottishritecharities.org.


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