What’s his favorite ice cream flavor? Coke or Pepsi? Does he double or single knot his shoelaces?

There’s a lot of information to obtain in reference to your nonprofit’s major gift prospects, so you want to focus on the attributes that indicate the highest likelihood of future giving.

The information you need most can be broken down into seven general categories. These categories consist of both philanthropic and wealth indicators:

1) Previous Donations to Your Nonprofit

This is the number one indicator of future giving, although the information is only as good as your organization’s donor database.

If you keep track of donations then reaching out to your annual donors should be simple, as their updated information already resides in your database. Unfortunately, the downside to only having data on previous donations is that it limits a nonprofit’s ability to gauge which prospects have the capacities to give more.

Prospect screening companies, prospect research consultants, and in-house researchers can all dig deeper to help reveal which annual donors have the money to give more. While some of these potential donors don’t want to give major gifts, many of these major gift prospects simply have never thought to give more or have never been asked to.

For nonprofits on a budget, a makeshift form of prospect research can help to provide desired donor information.

2) Previous Donations to Other Nonprofits

Your nonprofit might be one of a kind, but other organizations share your mission, location, size, and other attributes, thus making you relatable to other nonprofits. These similar nonprofits have lists of donors on which you might find major gift prospects who would also give to your organization.

Donors who give $5k-$10k to a nonprofit are 5 times more likely than the average person to donate to another organization.

3) Political Giving

Political giving is a telling indicator of future philanthropic giving because it demonstrates a donor’s willingness to fund causes they care about. Donors of $2,500 or more to political campaigns are 14 times more likely than the average person to donate to a nonprofit.

Furthermore, almost every political donation of $10,000 or more comes from a person with the capacity to give a major gift.

4) Nonprofit Involvement

Involvement as a foundation trustee or nonprofit director is a better indicator of a major gift prospect than any wealth marker. These people understand the importance of philanthropy and are more inclined to respond to fundraising asks.

You can also see who else these prospects know who serve on nonprofit boards or give philanthropically to other organizations. Leveraging your connections can go a long way towards helping you to find more major gift prospects.

5) Real Estate Ownership

While real estate ownership clearly articulates wealth, it also indicates an inclination for philanthropy. Donors who own $2+ million in real estate are 17 times more likely than the average person to give to charity.

6) Business Affiliations

As with nonprofit involvement, you want to leverage who your current major gift donors know in order to find more prospects and to receive personal introductions to them. However, an equally important endeavor is to discover who employs your donors and prospects.

Matching gifts are an easy way to double, triple, and sometimes quadruple donations. Prospect research helps you discover who works for companies that offer matching gift grants. Any donations they make may be eligible to be matched by their employers, and thus doubled in total value. More on matching gifts on this site.

7) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Insider Stock Transactions

SEC data can reveal where prospects hold equity in publicly traded companies.

You can unearth valuable information about wealthy prospects by parsing through SEC data, but this wealth indicator does not predict a willingness to give. It’s good to know that prospects can give major gifts, but SEC data is best paired with information that indicates a prospect’s history of past philanthropy.

You want to know your prospects through and through in order to formulate better ask strategies and to execute more effective fundraising campaigns.

Know what to look for when identifying major gift prospects and find more of the donors who can give the significant gifts that will make your fundraising campaigns huge successes.

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richard@helperful.com
About
Kim Becker Cooper is the Marketing Director at DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. She has ten years of experience serving as a frontline fundraiser, prospect researcher, and consultant to nonprofits.