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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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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.