5 Steps to Major Gift Prospect Lists

Start with this fact: Individuals – not companies or foundations – give over 84% of all philanthropic dollars in the U.S. annually.  If you want to know where the majority of your raised funds are coming from, it should be individuals.

With that said, the easiest way to build a major donor prospect list is to start with those that have a history of giving to your organization.  Create a master list of prospects using these 5 simple steps below. :

  1. Arrange your list of donors by those that can give larger gifts to those that can give smaller gifts, or from involved donors to less involved donors.
  2. Has your prospect ever volunteered for you before? Are they a member of the board? How many times have they donated in the past, and at what level?
  3. Research your prospect’s relationships. What company do they work for? What clubs are they members of? What nonprofit boards do they serve on?
  4. Research and assess each prospect’s ability to give – can they write the check?
  5. Prioritize your list

To help you refine your major donor prospect list, here is where you will always find your best prospects:

  • Existing major gift donors
  • Board of Directors and Former Board Members
  • Other volunteers
  • Direct mail donors with the capability to give larger gifts
  • People who give to similar organizations
  • Movers and shakers in the community
  • Business leaders
  • Civic leaders
  • Community groups
  • Corporations
  • Foundations

If anybody has any secrets about other ways to prospect and research, then I would love to hear them.

Also, remember that any good relationship takes time to build.


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