Over the last few months we’ve been working with several organizations to start major gift programs. We use a variety of approaches to boil down what can be a lot of potential prospects.
We start out with prospect research and refine the list with the help of board members, staff, and other donors.
Recently, we worked with a client to jump-start their major gift program. They had a donor base of several thousand so we looked at recency, frequency, and monetary value (RFM) as well as their relationship with the organization and other organizations like it to narrow down the list to 250 prospects.
But that’s still too many prospects for a small shop to handle, so we created a prioritized prospect list that we split into four waves based on themes that emerged from the remaining 250 prospects. We wanted to share this with you because we think it’s a great way to think about different pools of major gift prospects.
Wave 1 – The Hot List: This list is your very best prospects. These donors have a relationship with the staff or board, have given significantly to your organization, have demonstrated an affinity for supporting similar causes, and have the capacity to make a large gift.
Wave 2 – Strong Connections: This wave consisted of individuals that may have the capacity, but most importantly, the staff or board indicated a very strong connection to the prospect.
Wave 3 – Sleeping Giants: This wave is one of our favorites! It contains names of current donors who are giving at lower levels to your organization, but are giving major gifts to similar organizations within the community. With a gentle nudge, they might be inclined to move to a mid- or major-level donor!
Wave 4 – Keep on the Radar: This group has proven capacity and may have given to other organizations, but there is no connection yet built to your organization.
Splitting a major gift prospect list into smaller lists helps prioritize your time and identify and make the list a little more manageable – especially for a small staff! Start with Wave 1 and work your way to others as capacity allows.
Try this method of sorting your major gift prospect list and see if it works for you!