5 Best Ways to Find a High Quality Donor

Are You Fishing With a Spear or a Net?

Well off couple talking about giving to a charity.
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You can fundraise without prospect research, and you can fundraise with it. The difference boils down to how difficult you want your life to be.

Fundraising without prospect research is like spearfishing, whereas prospect research turns the experience into fishing with a net.

Both work, but you’re going to be out on the water for a lot longer and return with considerably fewer fish if you choose the spear.

What is this wonderful prospect research that I speak of, you ask?

Prospect research hunts through masses of data on your prospects and donors and evaluates the likelihood that those individuals will donate, and if so, how much they will donate.

With a screening, you’re able to analyze a prospect’s wealth markers, personal background, charitable interests, and giving history.

When searching for high-quality fundraising prospects, keep an eye out for these five donor qualities!

Those attributes fall neatly into two categories, wealth markers and philanthropic indicators.

Wealth Markers

Wealth markers highlight a prospect’s ability to give

They paint a picture of a prospect’s financial situation. If you’re looking for high-quality donors, you’re looking for ones who have the ability to make major contributions, if not immediately, somewhere down the line.

#1: Political Giving

Political giving can tell a lot about a donor, and I’m not talking about the person’s political interests when I say that.

For one, records of political donations can signal wealth. Multiple large gifts to a candidate mean that the prospect has the funds to make a sizeable contribution to your nonprofit.

And, the simple fact that the donor has a history of political giving shows that the prospect is open to contributing to causes that he or she cares about.

If your nonprofit’s mission matches up with that prospect’s values, you’ll have an excellent chance of securing a donation in the future.

#2: Real Estate Ownership

Real estate ownership is one of the most traditional wealth markers prospect researchers use.

Prospect A owns property valued at X amount. Therefore, it can be estimated that Prospect A can reasonably be asked to donate Y amount.

Real estate ownership even goes beyond its role as a traditional wealth marker in that it can correspond to a donor’s willingness to give as well.

In fact, those that own $2+ million in real estate are 17 times more likely to give philanthropically than an average prospect.

Philanthropic Indicators

These indicators reveal whether someone will become a donor. By definition, a high-quality donor has to be a donor already. He or she is already philanthropic.

A donor’s financial situation is just one of the factors that determine the value of a supporter.

High-quality or not, your organization won’t get far with a bunch of prospects thinking about donating. They need to be willing to take the plunge and go ahead and give.

#3: Previous Giving to your Nonprofit

Donors are creatures of habit. If a donor has already given to your nonprofit, you’re in a much better position to secure a future donation than with an unproven prospect.

Loyal donors are the most likely candidates to move up the donor pyramid, but you have to maintain records to know whom you need to target.

Also, you’re never going to be able to sustain long-term relationships with donors if you treat returning donors like first-time prospects.

Repeat donor retention is at 64%, as compared to first-time donor retention which is at 23%.

The more someone donates, the more committed to your nonprofit the person becomes, and the more likely that donor is to stick around indefinitely.

When thinking about increasing your high-quality donors, look to your loyal supporters first.

#4: Previous Giving to Other Nonprofits

It is important to know if a prospect has given to organizations other than your nonprofit. Giving to other nonprofits demonstrates the all-important willingness to give.

Also, knowing the prospect’s past gift amounts and the organizations that he gave to can help guide your asks.

You’ll be able to make a more targeted and accurate ask if you know the donor’s giving history, even if that history is unrelated to your organization.

#5: Nonprofit Involvement

Those involved in the nonprofit world simply get the process. They understand the rigmarole of fundraising and are more understanding and quicker to act because of it.

Imagine your organization is under a time crunch for a challenge grant. Your year is running out, and you haven’t brought in enough funds to meet the match requirement.

Your fundraisers are making that final push to reach your goal and secure the grant. Asking for a donation from a supporter who has been a board member (even if it was not with your org) will be easier than asking a random candidate.

The donor who sat on a board will understand a challenge grant and grasp the urgency of the situation. A donor who is newer to the field may not be able to help you make your deadline.

That’s one scenario of thousands when experience in the nonprofit sector matters.

If you know where to dig, prospect research can change the entire fundraising game.

Looking to pursue prospects for planned giving? Screen your donor pool.

Needing to add some new major gifts to up your operating budget? Research will help.

The nonprofit community is becoming more donor-centric. Accurate, personalized, and targeted asks are the way of the future. Prospect research is your organization’s ticket to board that train. 

Bill Tedesco helps nonprofits use prospect research to find the very best donors.  He is an expert in all the ways to research prospects, approach them, and turn them into long-term, loyal supporters. Learn more about Bill from his bio.