Five Questions to Identify Your Best Donor Prospects

By Gerry Czarnecki

Most boards have a “give or get” goal for their members. Understanding and executing on the “give” part is pretty simple: Just write a check. Writing that check may be a stretch for some, but most boards are pretty firm that members must give financially to their cause. For others, the “get” function is often tougher, because it means that the board member must have the ability to connect with another potential donor. Some may simply not have the connections, others may fear the “ask.”

The “get” is not always the act of persuading somebody else to write a check; it often means providing the name of a potential donor, and more importantly, offering the introduction. Yes, the truly professional fundraising organizations are happy with a quality introduction, and are even happier when the board member can accompany the potential donor to the first meeting. Opening the door to a viable donor prospect can make a huge difference in the search for funding.

It is our obligation as board members to sort through our contacts, and based on our knowledge of them, to turn a raw lead into a viable prospect. Fundraising is all about relationships, and a board member’s personal connections will help to accelerate the ability of the development and fundraising leadership to build their own relationship with the prospect. But, it is up to the board member to ask the critical first level of filtering questions to ensure that the lead is actually a real prospect.

Not all of your friends and associates are prospects. Asking these five questions can start the filtering process that identifies the true prospects in a larger pool of leads:

  1. Do they have enough success to believe that it may be time to give back?
  2. What community needs fuel their passion, and does that intersect with your cause?
  3. Does your cause overlap or conflict with their current commitments?
  4. Will they have the financial capacity to become a donor?
  5. Will your personal relationship help to connect the cause to the passion?

Gerry Czarnecki is founder and chairman of the nonprofit National Leadership Institute (nationalleadershipinstitute.org), which helps boards of nonprofit organizations become strategic assets to the leadership team. His extensive background as a C-suite executive and CEO is coupled with current board leadership of corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is also chairman and CEO of the Deltennium Group. Contact him at 561.293.3726 or gmc@deltennium.com.

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