5 Foolproof Steps to Identify New Campaign Prospects

By susanlienau | June 8, 2016 | Capital Campaigns, Featured News, Major Gifts

Running a campaign for any organization is a challenge, but the task can be especially daunting for organizations which have a limited pool of major gift prospects. Many organizations wonder how to successfully run a campaign without losing ground in other areas, such as annual funds and regular operations and services.

What may be surprising is that campaigns often serve as a catalyst to build lasting support. Successful campaigns create a unique opportunity to reach above and beyond your regular donor demographic, expand your marketability and raise awareness of your organization to a much wider audience. So how can you efficiently use the momentum of a campaign to attract and retain new donors? Where do you begin to grow your donor base?

Well cover 5 steps to help you identify new major donors for your next fundraising campaign:

1. Start with those closest to you.
2. Engage your community.
3. Make a list of prospects.
4. Don’t be afraid to promote your organization.
5. Hire a major gift officer.

Keep reading to learn how you can gain major donors and develop long-lasting relationships.

1. Start With Those Closest to You

Be aware of the strengths you already have, specifically when it comes to those who are already involved in your organization. Both board members and volunteers are often involved in other groups with similar missions to yours.

Take the time to conduct individual list reviews with each board member. By giving them an initial list of key community leaders and organizations, it will remind them of their own connections, as well as encourage them to suggest more names and help you expand your pipeline.

Additionally, if you’re looking for major donors to contribute to your capital campaign, conducting a feasibility study is a great way to find new prospects. Feasibility studies are not only a necessary step in your capital campaign’s plan but also a way to determine if community leaders and business owners are interested in supporting your organization.

Keep in mind: hiring a consultant to conduct your interviews is the best way to get honest feedback from your feasibility study.

For more advice on how to approach your feasibility study, read our comprehensive guide that includes samples to help make your feasibility study a success!

Working from your connections is a great way to identify new prospects and reach out to donors. Using the connections you already have, you’ll have a much easier time approaching potential major donors.

2. Engage Your Community

Your organization can stay engaged in the community by:

  • Staying up-to-date on current events.
  • Joining your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and other services clubs.
  • Partnering with like-minded organizations.
  • Having a presence at community events.

When you begin to collaborate with other organizations for the common good of the community, you will find new opportunities to build local support for your own visions and goals.

Plus, you’ll be able to meet and interact with community leaders and other significant people who might be likely candidates for matching gifts

3. Make a List of Prospects

Make a list of philanthropists, business leaders and stakeholders you aspire to engage—and then figure out ways to start meeting with them.

Initiate relationships with public leaders, such as elected officials and prominent business owners. Study donor rolls and boards of key organizations including local hospitals, college boards, museums and other not-for-profits.

You will soon begin to see overlaps; start by focusing on the names that you see most often and those who have a track record for being philanthropic and community-minded.

Ask for meetings with these highly involved community members. Use your board and other friends to help make connections whenever possible. By making these stakeholders aware of and supportive of your mission, you will begin to gain access to new areas in your community.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Your Organization

Get the message out about your organization’s impact early and often! Advertise your projects, share your vision, and invite others to work with you to meet your goals. If you are campaigning for a building project, invite people to tour the site and build events around key points of construction.

Ask board members to host focused receptions or other special events. As people respond, train them as ambassadors for your organization. Make the campaign an exciting and celebratory moment in the life of your organization. This kind of momentum is essential for any campaign but particularly when crafting your annual fund appeal.

When planned correctly, special events are smart investments that will attract new prospects and make people truly want to learn more about you and your cause. Just don’t forget to have a strong follow-up plan to ensure you capture all of your new prospects!

Events aren’t the only way to promote your nonprofit. Think about expanding your online presence too. Your nonprofit’s website has a wealth of information about your mission and can potentially persuade people to support your campaign.

For instance, your organization can apply for a Google Ad Grant, which will allow you to promote your website on Google. The grant awards nonprofits with $10,000 of ad funding every month. With an effective management plan in place, you can boost traffic to your website, allowing you nonprofit to find more campaign prospects in the process.

5. Hire a Major Gift Officer

As you make improvements to your fundraising strategy, you might find that you need to hire a major gift officer. A major gift officer can help you iron out the wrinkles in your cultivation strategy as well as identify prospective donors.

Having a major donor on your staff will ensure that your team has the time and resources to reach out to donors and start building relationships before you need to ask for funds.

Of course, trying to hire a major gift officer can be a long process, but in the end, it will be a beneficial step for your organization. To help make the hiring process even smoother, consider working with an executive search firm.

They will work with your organization to determine what qualities are most important and lead you through the process from start to finish. Some executive search firms will even assist you with onboarding your new hire so that the individual can transition into the position with fewer challenges.

By following these tips, you can use any campaign to build lasting relationships and support for your organization. Soon you will be equipped with a strong prospect pipeline full of new connections!

For more information on major gift and other fundraising strategies, check out these additional resources:

  • Capital Campaign Guide: A common reason why organizations seek out new major donors is to help fund a capital campaign. If that’s your situation, learn more about setting goals, hiring a consultant, and conducting a feasibility study with our comprehensive guide.
  • Major Gift Office Goals: If you’ve hired a major gift officer or considered hiring one, this article is for you! It will guide you through all the steps to establish a definitive role and set attainable expectations.
  • Unlock the Key to Major Gift Success Through List Reviews: Interested in learning more about list reviews and how they can improve your major gifts? Check out our complete list of ways you can utilize this key strategy.

– Susan Lienau, Assistant Vice President for Philanthropic Operations and Sara Clark, Project Manager

Email info@averillsolutions.com and find us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook. Visit our testimonials page to see what our not-for-profit partners have to say about us.



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