It’s no secret that we love to talk about the “next-best” prospects. You know, the 97% of folks who are not in an MGO portfolio. The 1/3 of donors who have given over $1,000, but never received a personalized “thanks” for their gift. The 96% of folks with a net worth value over $1MM+ that are unassigned. (Source: EverTrue analysis)
Our friends at the University of Wyoming call these prospects the “wowies.” We love that.
There is a lot to be said on the topic of why the advancement industry needs to pay closer attention to the 97% of alums that don’t currently have a 1:1 relationship with their alma maters. But for now, we’re going to focus on how to get these “next-best” prospects on the map for qualifying visits while you’re out on the road.
On any gift officer trip, the anchor visits are a given – you’ll meet with the top folks on your radar. But the trip shouldn’t end there. Make sure to intentionally seek out those “next-best” prospects to build out a well-rounded trip that cultivates and stewards the known folks and brings a steady cohort of new “wowies” into the pipeline.
In the world of identifying alums for qualifying visits (and in the world, in general), luck favors the prepared. Check out this example from our friend Stephen Sullivan, Director of Leadership Annual Gifts at Baylor University, who used last-minute meeting cancellations as an opportunity to bring new major gift prospects into the fold.
On a recent trip to Houston, a donor sent Stephen a last-minute cancellation message. Using the prospect heat map feature on the EverTrue app, he zoomed in on alums in the area who were unassigned and hadn’t met with a gift officer.
He texted a bunch of folks, one responded, they had dinner, and about a year later, the donor established an endowed scholarship.
Another member of the Baylor team, gift officer Rachel Bay, was recently traveling in Austin and received a last-minute cancellation from a donor.
Rachel used the EverTrue prospect heat map to layer in some key data points (recent gifts, LYBUNTs, recent social media engagement) and sent a quick text to a handful of long-overlooked folks:
“Hi, NAME! This is Rachel from Baylor. I’ll be in the Austin area tomorrow and just had some time open up on my calendar. I would love to stop by and say hello! Are you available?”
From those texts, Rachel filled the meeting gap, scheduled additional visits, and already has another Austin trip planned to follow up with these new prospects.
Canceled donor meetings are disappointing, but they’re just a part of life. Mobile-friendly technology can turn cancellations into an opportunity to connect with folks that have fallen through the cracks for years.
Meet Devin Ferguson, Assistant Vice President for Philanthropy & Engagement at Louisiana Tech University.
Ahead of a recent visit to Atlanta, Georgia, Devin intentionally made time to dig into some Atlanta-based prospects that showed signs of affinity to Louisiana Tech, but hadn’t received any personal contact from a gift officer.
In EverTrue, Devin targeted a “textbook” qualification visit. The alum had engaged a number of times with Tech’s Facebook page, and his job title indicated significant capacity (he played a major role in building and designing an up-and-coming Georgia city).
Devin reached out to the alum ahead of his Atlanta trip. The alum responded and they met twice within one month, during which Devin learned about the alum’s interest in economic development and business startups. Connections abounded – Devin introduced the alum to a number of faculty members from Tech’s Innovation Enterprise program, and the alum connected Devin with a number of successful (and long-overlooked) Tech alums in the economic development and startup space.
The alum and his wife made a leadership gift to Louisiana Tech, and have since hosted a gathering for Louisiana Tech alums in the Atlanta area.
Here are a few more examples of gift officers using untraditional data points to uncover some “wowie” prospects:
- UVA’s Andrew Westhouse searched past contact reports for the name of a beloved professor to unearth a handful of new prospects who subsequently made 5-figure gifts to the professor’s new endowed scholarship.
- UNH’s Michael Randall dug for unassigned, non-degree holders who displayed an affinity for classic literature. He reached out to 30 new folks, secured a number of new gifts, and closed out a giving challenge for the Classics Department in a matter of hours.
- The University of Memphis’ Kimberly Grantham layered Windfall wealth data (indicators of $1MM+ net worth) alongside job changes, digital engagement, and giving patterns to identify alums to meet with their new president on his cross-country tour.
3 Stealable Tips
These are a few pro-tips to find your “wowie” prospects and help you prepare for the inevitable canceled donor meeting.
1.Know your 5 “next-best.”
Before your trip, dedicate an hour to uncovering your “next-best” prospects. We suggest layering these data points. (This is do-able in a few clicks in EverTrue. Get in touch if you’d like a walk-through.)
- Unassigned prospects who…
- Have not met with a gift officer in the past three years
- Just changed jobs
- Just engaged with your school’s Facebook page
- Just made a gift
EverTrue pro-tip: Save a search in EverTrue titled “Next-best: CITY NAME” for easy reference from your phone via the EverTrue app while you’re on the move.
2. Use the app on your phone
For those super-last-minute cancellations, open the EverTrue app on your phone, zoom in on the neighborhood (or even the building) you’re in to see prospects who live or work nearby, and shoot them a call or text.
3. Keyword search contact reports.
Maybe you’re traveling with a well-known faculty member or campus leader. Or, maybe you’re focused on raising money for a new student center or research initiative. In EverTrue, you can search past contact reports by keyword, layer in geographical information, and mine folks in the area for whom a last-minute meeting request would make sense.