March 21, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Soliciting, thanking and keeping donors takes more time and effort when you’re asking for a sizable gift. That’s why you can’t treat all of your supporters as potential major donors. So it’s important to weed through your entire database finding the best candidates to solicit as major donor prospects. Often there are constituents already in your database that fit the bill, you just have to do some legwork to find them. Let’s look at some basic reports that will help you uncover your potential major donors.
Start with some reports that will help you segment your donor base, highlighting the handful of constituents who are the most likely to be qualified.
There are two simple ways to identify a list of donors that you can investigate further to see if they are a good major donor prospect.
For most organizations, your donors will follow the 80/20 rule, meaning 20% of your donors contribute 80% of your revenue. Run a report showing your largest contributors such as DonorPerfect’s Top Donor report. The report makes it easy to find your biggest supporters and you can choose what percent of your top donors the report will show. This allows you to narrow down your list to just 20% of your donor base.
If you’re worried that the top 20% strategy is going to leave out the names of some good potential candidates, you have another option. First, run a report like the Comprehensive Donor Revenue Analysis to determine what your average gift size is. After you’ve determined your average gift size, run a donor listing report with a set filter to pull in just the donors who have given an individual gift greater than your average gift amount.
Now that you have a smaller pool of donors to investigate, let’s outline what qualities you need in a major donor. Really, there are just two that you want to look out for:
How do you find out if your donors meet these two pieces of criteria? Let’s dig in further to some great report options.
There is a lot of information you can glean from some basic information about your donors. For example, did you know you can find out a donor’s political contributions just by looking up their name on fec.gov. Political contributions are an excellent wealth indicator, and statistically, donors who have contributed $2,500.00 or more to a political campaign are 14% more likely to make a major gift contribution. So start with a basic report like DonorPerfect’s Donor Names, Addresses and Phone Numbers listing.
Pro Tip: Short on information? Use online forms to collect donor information quickly and easily, no data entry required!
Along with basic information like your donors’ names, you can get a clearer picture of a donor’s wealth through their real-estate holdings. Plugging their home or vacation addresses into sites like Zillow or Trulia will give you an accurate estimate of their home’s value.
Pro Tip: Publically-traded companies report on their investors. You can look into your donors’ stock holdings on the site, sec.gov.
A person’s profession can give you insight into their financial status. If your database tracks a donor’s professional title, you can use a site like Glassdoor to get a better sense of their salary. Glassdoor also offers salary ranges by company name if you know your donor’s employer. Using a report that showcases relationships like DonorPerfect’s Relationships/Links list is a great resource. Use this report to look up a donor’s employer and business colleagues. You may even find that a donor has a connection with one of your board members, staff or volunteers.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check if their employer offers a matching gift program. It’s a simple way to double your money.
A donor’s giving capacity is only half of the equation. You also need to measure their level of commitment to your cause. Volunteer and giving history is a great way to evaluate their dedication. Run a simple volunteer hours report to get a better idea of how much time your major donor prospect has given to your cause.
Pro Tip: Make this even easier by making sure your volunteers can submit their hours online, saving you from data entry.
Just because a donor hasn’t made a major gift to you yet, doesn’t mean they won’t. After you’ve gathered your list of potential prospects, dig deeper into their giving history. There are other great indicators of a donor’s interest in your mission than just the size of their individual gift. When evaluating their giving history, look at three data points:
DonorPerfect offers three great reports to help you track each of these data points: the Donors by Most Recent Gift and Amount report, the Gift Frequency Analysis report, and the Giving History with Complete Donor Profile report. The Giving History report will not only tell you their total cumulative giving, it will also tell you for how many years they have been supporting your cause.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can even use these data points to calculate your own RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) score for each of your prospects.
So you’ve gathered your data and determined who you will solicit as a major donor prospect, now what? It’s time to get down to the details. When making a major donor ask, include specifics like what you are asking them to fund and how much money you are asking them to donate. You can turn to your data again for help in determining an appropriate ask amount.
First, look back at your top 20% of donors and identify the top 5 largest gifts made. If one gift out-paces the other gifts, you may want to take an average. Otherwise, pick an amount that is on par with the top five largest single gifts your organization has received.
After you’ve established an amount, run a second report to see how many donors have given at that level cumulatively in the last 12 months. DonorPerfect’s Giving Statement makes it easy to calculate your donors’ cumulative giving in that time period. If the list is too large then the gift amount you selected may be too low. Similarly if the list is too small, perhaps the major gift amount is too large. Adjust accordingly and try again.
Finding the right ask amount is a great start, but for more tips and inspiration on crafting your major donor appeal, check out our blog post, How The Living Desert Finds Major Donors During the COVID-19 Pandemic or download our free e-book, How to Discover and Engage Major Donors. Remember, major donors require more careful cultivation, but the tremendous impact they make on your annual revenue makes these donors vital contributors to your cause.