Unsuccessful fundraisers don’t understand qualification. They don’t recognize its power. They wait for the next wealth screened list. They fiddle with it in Excel or in some other database. They make a few calls. They don’t get any appointments. They give up. Then they say the list was no good.
Unsuccessful fundraisers don’t use the qualification process effectively. They don’t recognize the fact that understanding qualified supporters in-depth is crucial. When they call, write or visit them, they ignore their interests, passions, desires, and needs. And, too often, they ignore them entirely. They don’t call, write or visit them at all.
So how do you qualify them?
- STEP 1: Listen. It’s about opening up dialogue. It’s about creating feedback loops so you can capture verbatims and digital body language. It’s about listening.
- STEP 2: Understand. Then it’s about studying what you learned to determine the potential for the relationship. Can one be developed? Do they want one? With who? You? Or just with your mission? Do they have the right level of passion now? Can they have it later? Are their interests in alignment? Does their life story entwine somehow with your organization’s mission? How? Why? And, is the time right? If not now, when? Also, do they have capacity? Do they have friends or family members with capacity? Do they have children? Do they have assets?
- STEP 3: Segment. Now that you’ve properly engaged your donors and put forth some effort to properly understand them, it’s time to segment the data based on a variety of factors. For instance, where are they in the consideration process? Have they already made a legacy gift? Are they considering one? How about a major gift? And, where would they like to make an impact? Why? Etc.
- STEP 4: Prioritize. Based on your segmentation, some donors will require highly personal, one-to-one outreach (such as a telephone call or a visit) while others would probably prefer a letter or email. It’s essential that you show ’em that you’ve been listening. Prioritize them accordingly. Be there for the donors that want personal contact. Be available for the donors that don’t (at least not yet).
- STEP 5: Personalize. Personalization isn’t about putting their name on a letter. It’s about relevance and value. Armed with the knowledge you’ve acquired and the segmentation and prioritization you’ve worked out, it’s time to create offers that will interest each donor in each segment according to their priority. Offers can range from an opportunity to meet with you in-person (for those who are ready) to an offer to simply watch a video. Either way, every offer should reflect each donor’s interests, passions, desires, needs and where they reside in the consideration process in order to ensure that you and your message will be truly relevant and accepted. Your major donors expect and deserve that kind of donor-centricity.
- STEP 6: Engage. It’s time to put the stamp on the envelope, hit ‘send’, pick up the phone or get in the car. No matter what vehicle you use, you’ve got to engage with your donors. That’s the only way to build trust and grow the relationship to a level that is needed before the donor will give. It’s pretty darn difficult to close a major gift without engaging with a donor.
- STEP 7: Monitor. Major gift fundraising requires time and patience. You must be polite and persistent as you engage with them and they engage with you directly or with your organization (without you present). All the while you must monitor what’s going on. By monitoring your donors, you’ll learn when it’s the right time to take action and what action you should take. Nonprofits working with MarketSmart employ our digital tracking technology to monitor what their donors are doing online (on their web pages, on Facebook, etc.). They also use our donor survey platform and other widgets to monitor their donors as they navigate the gift consideration process. You will also want to monitor whether or not your donors recently gave. For instance, if a qualified donor made a $5,000 donation online, that action should further qualify them for outreach. And, of course, if you meet with a donor face-to-face, you’ll want to use the information you gather to understand how you can facilitate their giving. No matter how you do it, monitoring your donors over time is integral to the qualification process.