5 Ways to Prioritize Fundraising Prospects

Sometimes, as a researcher, you’re provided with a list of potential prospects—either from your development officer or a wealth screening—and tasked with prioritizing them with little or no asset information. Below are five easy ways to determine which prospects to focus on first.

1. Past Donors

If a prospect has given to your organization in the last three to five years, he or she should be bumped to the top tier of prospects. These people have shown a recent interest in your organization’s mission and, as such, are your most connected prospects.

2. Social Media Engagement

If possible, quickly screen your prospects or search for them on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. If they are friends with, “like,” and/or follow your organization’s social media pages, then they likely have an interest in your organization’s mission. Especially if the prospect has shared, liked, or commented on one or more of your organization’s statuses, then you should move him or her to the top tier of the prospect list.

As a bonus, check which of your pages or accounts the prospect is following. This can give you a better idea of where the prospect’s interests lie (e.g., if the prospect follows your institution’s men’s basketball accounts(s), then he or she may be interested in donating to the athletics department).

Check out this EverTrue case study to learn how the research team at Oregon State University is using social engagement data to prioritize prospects.

3. Wealthy Zip Codes

One way to quickly screen a prospect list is to tag every person who lives in a high-wealth zip code. I’ve found these zip code lists from 2015 to be helpful: Forbes and The Huffington Post. You can infer that people who live in wealthy neighborhoods have a high capacity to give, but this information should just be a starting point when trying to prioritize who you should be looking at. Although they have capacity, these prospects may not have a high interest in giving to your organization.

4. Outside Giving

Check whether your prospect has recently given to any organizations, local or national, that have missions similar to your own. This process is a great way to prioritize your list by interest. However, because you’ll have to check each prospect individually, this process may take longer than you are able to spend on the list.

5. Employment Title

Another quick way to sort your list is by employment title. Anyone with a high-level title (i.e., executive, president, owner, etc.) should be moved to the top, as such a prospect is likely to have the capacity to give a major gift. Don’t forget to cross-reference with LinkedIn to make sure you are working with the most up-to-date employment information on your prospects.

These methods are only some of the ways you can quickly prioritize fundraising prospects. Comment below with any suggestions that you have!

Emily Davis began as a research associate at the Indiana University Foundation and was promoted to development analyst in 2011. In addition to assisting her science- and health-related clients with research, she has completed research for the IU and IU Foundation presidents as well as on international prospects. She received her undergraduate degrees from Ball State University and her master’s degree from Indiana University Bloomington. In her free time, she enjoys completing freelance editing and formatting work when not watching Thomas the Train with her toddler.