Are your donors Qualified?–Part 2

Hey guys, I hope you had a great weekend.  Here in Philadelphia we managed to slog it through the triple digits and extremely high humidity.  Reminds me of the rainforest…but we press on!

Getting back to discussing qualifying donors makes me think about our every day relationships and friendships.  Usually, you don’t just decide to make someone a friend of yours the first time you meet someone.  There may be a couple of characteristics your attracted to at first, but you do a few things before deciding if this person is really going to be your friend or not.

First you might invite them to have coffee or a beer (my favorite). Then if that goes well perhaps you invite them to a meal or to an event.  Each interaction helps as you judge whether you continue on in the relationship.  And, if you’ve got a decent enough EQ you’ll pick up clues from the other person if they are interested in you.

It’s kind of a little dance we all play.  But a necessary one.

Well, the same is true about our donors.  They tell you a lot by their behavior at first.  How many times have they given to your organization?  How large are their gifts.  When was the last time they gave?  All of these are clues about the relationship they want with you.

However, as I said in the last post, these clues are not telling us everything.  Which goes back to what I said about meeting a $$ Criteria.  A non-profit who assumes someone is a major donor and wants a deeper relationship with you because they met your $$ criteria is like a person coming up to you, smiling and saying, “hi,” means they want to be your best friend.

It might not mean they want a deeper relationship at all with you.  But for whatever reason, many non-profits act like that socially awkward person (and we all know one) who thinks if you smile at them, somehow that means you’re their new best buddy.

Okay, so I promised some practical advice.  How do you qualify a donor?  Here is how we do it at Veritus Group.

#1—Review everyone who has met your major gift criteria as relates to current giving.  That might be $500 cume YTD, $1000 cume YTD or more.  We call this measurement “inclination”.  How is your current donor currently giving and does it show inclination to give?  Next, look at capacity.  What is there ability to give?  Use any of the wealth indicators to get to this information.  It is the confluence of INCLINATION and CAPACITY that gives you the clue that the donor meets YOUR metric.

#2—If they meet your metric, then it’s time to qualify.  Here is a way to do it:

  1. Send an introductory letter–explain who you are, thanking them for past support, that you want to contact them about their interest in X organization and that you will be calling within the next week.
  2. Phone Call—In the phone call, you tell the prospect you’re following up your letter, that you have been assigned as their personal representative, you thank them for all their past support and you would love to get to know what they are most passionate about X organization.  If the donor is forthcoming try and find out what other organizations they love, why they like your organization, how they would like to be communicated with in the future and if appropriate, could you sit down to meet with them sometime.
  3. Survey Letter—If you cannot get a hold of them on the phone after a few tries, leave a message letting them know you called and give your phone number.  If after a week you do not hear back, we advise sending out another personal letter asking for their feedback in a personal survey.  This survey asks questions about the donors passions, what they like about the organization, what programs they like the most, how they want to be communicated to, etc.  Basically, all that you were going to ask in the phone call.  Make sure you send a stamped reply envelope to make it easy for them to respond.
  4. Final notecard—If you still haven’t heard from them, you may want to send one final notecard, handwritten asking the donor how they would like to be communicated with, let them know your contact information.
  5. Final Phone Call—We would reserve this for those high dollar donors that you have yet to hear from.

Okay, I said I would provide a graphic so here it is:

Now, remember that what you’re going to find is that roughly 1/3 of the donors you contact are going to want a more personal relationship with your organization.  But, there is nuance at play here.  What I mean is that many donors you are cultivating you already have a relationship with.  You know they will be on your caseload, so you don’t need to go through this whole process.  However, sending them a survey or phoning them to thank them and follow up with good questions is a good thing.

But, I’ve seen caseloads of 450-500 people on them.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen!  This process is perfect to get you down to the 150 you can actually manage and serve well.  And, this process works great for the small non-profit where only the Executive Director is cultivating major donors.

In fact, I just helped a small non-profit take a list of 150 potential major donors and got his caseload down to 45. (a number he can handle with all his other work)  Just this process alone helped raise over $40K in new revenue because the Executive Director took the extra time to get in touch with donors.

And, that is another of the added benefits of this Qualifying Process:  Donations and a ton more information about your donor.  There are only positives that come out of this process.  You get donors who WANT to be cultivated in a personal way, you obtain revenue you didn’t expect and you find out what your donors are most passionate about.

Awesome, right?  Now, go out and QUALIFY!

Added bonus:  If you’d like a FREE copy of our white 8-page white paper that gives you actual examples of letters to send and added context on how to qualify your file, click here.

Jeff Schreifels

About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Data, Development Directors, Donor-Centered, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Non-Profits, Philanthopy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Are your donors Qualified?–Part 2

  1. I can’t believe I only recently discovered you/this blog. I’m in love! And I most definitely want to qualify so expect an email from me.

  2. Philip says:

    great advice, in this qualification process, I notice that you don’t meet with prospects, is that because of both time and cost reasons?

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