Some of my colleagues and I have been tasked with presenting what we learned at a conference we went to last year. The conference was The Art of Asking, by Jerry Panas and the Institute for Charitable Giving. I’m sure most of you know Jerry Panas, he is a beloved icon in the development world. The conference gave many new ideas, but also stressed the importance of the basics. And, from my perspective, it’s a good idea to review the basics every once in awhile.
So, what better place to start than qualifying the prospect.
There are four areas that you want to focus on in your research, planning, and first few meetings with a prospective donor. They are capacity, interests, relationships, and motivation.
Capacity includes the donors assets, income, and giving history to other charitable organizations as well as your own. A lot of this can be done through your prospect research department. They run analytics that give a pretty good idea of this type of information. However, the best way is through meeting one-on-one with the donor and picking up on certain keys revealed in the conversation. Examples include properties owned, recent vacations, career highlights, or other charities that they support.
Interests is determining where prospects spend their time and energy. I have donors whose interests range from international travel to bird watching. Engaging in conversation about one’s interests reveals the potential areas that they may consider important enough to support. It’s also an easy conversation to have with prospects, many of whom love to talk about their passions.
Relationships delve into a prospects personal, family life. Are they married, divorced, or widowed? How many children or grandchildren do they have? Who is the decision maker in the family? The answers to these questions go a long way toward determining how to structure the ultimate “ask”, and who to include in the process.
Motivation reveals what drives the prospect to give a gift. It’s an emotional component in the giving process that can be hard to discuss, but all important to a successful ask. What experiences and feelings shape the prospect’s mindset toward donating? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you won’t know what motivates them to give.
These four areas in the qualification process are all part of building a long-term relationship with your future donors. We all know them….but a little reminder every once in awhile doesn’t hurt!
Please feel free to leave a comment below – I’m always interested in your thoughts.
Photo credit: Back to the basics