You will soon discover that all your prospects and donors are not all alike. There are 3 types of prospects.
I have found it helpful to go through my list of contacts and identify who might be my:
- High-priority prospects
- Medium-priority prospects
- Low-priority prospects
Focusing on my high-priority prospects will bring about larger gifts, which will reduce the time the overall fundraising takes.
- High-priority prospects are people who have the financial capability to generously support you or your organization. But the donor’s financial cushion is not the only criterion for this category. Donors may be ranked as high-priority based on their eagerness to support you. These donors may have given you signals that they want to be part of your support team.
- As you get to know people, you may turn up information that will help you make an educated guess to determine who might be high-priority contacts.
- A prospect’s home can provide a clue. If their home and grounds are extensive, it’s quite possible they have the capacity to make a significant gift. If they own more than one home, such as a summer home, that could also be an indicator.
- Cars can tell a similar story about their owners’ financial cushion.
- A prospect’s job can be an indicator that helps you prioritize, as some positions and industries tend to be more lucrative than others. Find out about your prospect’s job, and his or her job title or position. If the prospect is married, are both husband and wife working full-time? Sometimes you will find that a prospective donor owns a business, which can provide freedom for either the individual or the company (or both) to give to your ministry.
- Sometimes a prospect will have a source of extra income, such as book royalties, or income from property or an inheritance.
- Lifestyle can be a significant indicator. Prospects who can spend widely, or who have leisure for extensive travel, etc., may be open to giving significantly to your ministry.
- Don’t worry if, as you read these criteria, you find you have few prospects that fall into this category. I am not suggesting any dollar amount, as those can vary. Simply go through your list and identify and bring to the surface those who seem eager to give or who seem to have a higher capacity to give.
- Medium-priority prospects are people who may not have great financial capability, yet they need to be asked. Therefore, you will pursue them after you have focused on your high-priority contacts.
- Low-priority prospects could be people who might support you at a lower amount, or people with whom you have had casual contact.
As you review each name on your list, determine how much you intend to ask of that person. This, obviously, is not a science; you are simply seeking to maximize the prospect’s giving potential.
I recommend that you challenge high, which raises the donor’s vision. Some wise person has said, “If you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.” If you aim low, that’s what you’ll get. Why ask for $30 per month when a donor might gladly give $150?
Keep in mind that people want to find their place in kingdom work—to discover where they fit in. This is your opportunity to challenge them.
While all prospective supporters may be important to your ministry, I have found that identifying high, medium, and low priorities is essential. It is virtually impossible for you to give equal time to all the people who make up your prospect list. Therefore, you need to identify and spend time with those who will make the biggest impact on you and your ministry.
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