(Major Gifts #5) An Easy Strategy for Discovering New Major Gifts Prospects

An Easy Strategy for Discovering New Major Gifts Prospects
An Easy Strategy for Discovering New Major Gifts Prospects

Today, we want to focus on one of the greatest challenges facing development shops everywhere: finding and discovering new prospects for major, principal, and capital gifts.

We hear this everywhere: 

  • Fundraisers tell us that they don’t have enough prospects who are truly qualified. Often their portfolios are overloaded with suspects, not qualified prospects. 
  • Board members often say, “We need NEW prospects. We need MORE prospects.” 

How about you? Do you think you have enough prospects to meet the goal of your major gift? 

Here’s the real truth.  You really do have plenty of major donor prospects. There are sleeper major gift prospects right under your nose – in your own donor database. 

Start at home

The best place to start prospecting for new gifts is with your current donors.

Many of your current donors actually have high wealth capacity – but you are treating them like smaller donors. They don’t feel special. 

What’s more, you have not spent enough time with many of your donors to even find out if they are truly qualified in terms of interest and wealth capacity.  

Turn Donor Thank You Calls into Discovery Calls

Here’s a very easy discovery tool you can use with your current prospects. You’d actually be surprised what you can find out from this strategy.

Why not systematically make thank-you phone calls to a group of donors each week? And most importantly, turn each call into a Discovery Call by engaging the donor in conversation.

Every single thank you call you ever make should really be a Discovery Call. These thank-you phone calls can open the door to a new relationship that can result in a major gift. You never know. 

It’s happened time and time again to our clients – a donor will simply offer a sizable gift, during an enjoyable thank you phone call.

How to turn a thank you call into a Discovery Call

How can you accomplish this? By asking the donor all sorts of questions. 

Here’s the truth – Donors will usually tell you lots of information – if you just ask them.

In this thank you phone call, you are all about the donor – asking them how they came to be a donor to your organization. Ask them why they gave, and why they are supporting your institution’s work. 

These are, quite frankly, the most important discovery questions of all. 

Find out their Donor Story

In these calls, you have a chance to do deep prospect research. Remember, the best way to find out if a donor wants to learn more about your work, or wants to do more for your organization, is to ask them directly! 

In our Major Gifts Intensive this year, we will be teaching our Discovery Call Playbook – it’s our guide to making successful Discovery Calls. 

How Cristina turned a $1k gift into a $100k gift

You’ll love this story: Last year, one of our MGI participants, Senior Development Director Cristina Fragale, achieved amazing success with a thank-you call. 

Here’s her story: 

Thank yous and follow-ups are very natural for me, but I learned we could leverage them to make much stronger donor relationships.

Here’s an example: I had a cold thank you call with a donor who had been giving $1,000 faithfully, and I followed up with her using the cultivation techniques I learned from the course. I knew the questions to ask. 

As the donor talked on and on, she told me she really believed in this project, and that she wanted to write us a check for $100,000!  

The biggest plus of all is that I now recognize opportunities to ask for a gift when they come up on the phone. It has become very natural for me. I’m constantly referring to the things I learned in the Major Gifts Intensive course.

You, too, can turn a bread-and-butter thank-you call into a major gift. Just by asking the donor to share her story and getting her to talk. You never know what you might find.

Major donors are sleeping in your database

As we mentioned above, many of your smaller donors are actually major gift prospects. You DO have plenty of prospects.

Think about it. Usually, a major donor will make small gifts at first, to get to know the organization. Then, over time, their interest may grow, and their gifts increase.

They may be making large gifts to other organizations, but you are not aware of their generosity.

The more discovery thank you calls you can make – the better. Using discovery questions in a thank-you call is an easy and enjoyable path to take. 

And, of course, we all know that the best way to cultivate someone is by actually saying thank you, not asking for money.

2023 Major Gifts Intensive 

We will be focusing extensively on major gift discovery in the Major Gifts Intensive this year. 

If you’d like to learn the Discovery Call Playbook, so you can discover and qualify more major gift prospects, then consider joining the Major Gifts Intensive. 

This program may not be for you and your team. But then, it might just be the perfect guidebook to raise transformational gifts for your institution. 

This year’s cohort will close out on February 15th, and we are filling up earlier than usual this year. So let us know if you are interested. We’d love to work with you! 

Bottom Line: Discovering New Major Gifts Prospects 

Try this strategy: You just might discover a sleeper major donor right on the phone.