Start Thinking About Your Prospects

By Mark Belcher, Partner

I’m sure you read the title and thought to yourself, “That’s all I do!

In today’s environment of increasing competition for funding, I’ve been thinking about the constituency beyond Alumni, donors, foundations and corporations and would encourage you to do the same.

Many times we leave important dollars on the table from already engaged donors because we haven’t taken the time to segment those established groups another degree or two. With the data we all have access to, perhaps there are new ways to carve up the prospect list.

Do you have programs that impact women or children? Maybe there are ways to incorporate specific female donor programs and solicitations into your existing work.

Beyond the regular corporate or foundation work you do every day, can you look at vendors specifically as a class or group of prospects and tailor giving opportunities and benefits for them?

In health care and other large organizations, there are a considerable number of “invested” partners available to you through your materials management director.  Many times these types of vendor prospects are particularly excited about contributing to your programs as it increases their opportunity to be seen as a good partner, in addition to the valuable services and supplies they already provide.  It also gives them an opportunity for increased exposure among the decision makers in your organization.

I recently talked with a friend from a large southern children’s hospital. His staff has started a program to include gifts from and support to young philanthropists – read this as recent patients. Many of the children who have received care want to do things for the other kids still in the hospital – their friends.

Because of this emerging segment of donors, the hospital has assigned a full time development officer to work with the children and their families to host events and support the children as they raise money for the hospital. These aren’t always the biggest gifts, but he is making an investment that will pay dividends down the road by developing future philanthropists and hopefully committed lifetime donors.

These are just a few examples to consider, but I bet you and your staff or volunteers have opportunities to consider in your own back yard.

Don’t be afraid to stray from your regular mode of operations and scratch a little deeper to develop a new class of donors… you might be pleasantly surprised.