5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Prospect List in the New Year

This article goes over how you can take advantage of downtime by freshening up your prospect list for 2019 with these five tips.
freshen up your prospect list in new year write on fundraising

Kick off your campaigns with a new list of potential donors

The budget is finished. Year-end donations are on the books. Tax letters are right around the corner, but not due just yet. For many nonprofits, the beginning of the year provides a brief reprieve in the annual cycle of philanthropy. Take advantage of this time by freshening up your prospect list for 2019 with a few quick tips from Write On Fundraising.

1. Conduct an In-house Wealth Screening
A wealth screening is a review of key, publicly-available financial indicators like real estate ownership, business affiliations, and stock holdings that help nonprofits sort and prioritize relationships for cultivation. Typically, these screenings are conducted by outside firms, evaluate thousands of prospects at a time, and cost a pretty penny. The information they provide, however, is invaluable.

A smaller, in-house review can be conducted by hand-selecting 25-50 donors you might like to know more about and running them through a homemade screening process. Jacob Astley, Director of Prospect Development for Oklahoma State University, suggests an array of public data pools.

“Real estate, for example, can be easily located in Oklahoma through country assessor websites,” said Astley. He additionally recommendations Form4Oracle for publicly-traded stock information; 10-K reports for compensation information; 990-PF filings for family foundation information; and DonorSearch for searchable public gifts.

“Local libraries have a wealth of print and digital resources,” said Astley, “and some have subscriptions to the same services commonly used by prospect researchers, including Dun & Bradstreet and Newsbank.”

2. Add National Grant Prospects
Local libraries are also a great source for adding new national opportunities to your portfolio in 2019. The Tulsa City-County Library offers free access to Foundation Center – the country’s premier grant resource database – at their Central Library location as well as a plethora of helpful grant writing tools. Write On Fundraising extends Foundation Center data to active clients at no charge.

Sites like GrantWatch.com and GuideStar.com have free and paid subscription options available in order to access national foundation opportunities. Grants.gov remains the definitive research tool for pursuing state and federal funding. This comprehensive government database is free to nonprofits who create a SAM account through their website.

3. Revisit 2018 Headlines
The business section of the local newspaper is an excellent resource for prospecting new corporate donors. Simply keyword search terms like “expansion,” “merger,” and “acquisition” to learn more about the corporations, business owners, and officers who may have received an influx of cash or other holdings in 2018. Then cross-reference that information with your own donor data or board surveys (see #4) to begin to develop a strategy for cultivating new relationships.

Valuable information from the business community can also be found in business journals, magazines with local and statewide circulation, and trade publications.

4. Survey the Board
Asking your board members to provide information about their personal and business networks is not only a great way to identify new prospects, but also relatively painless way for board members to engage in meaningful philanthropy. Create a quick form or survey that provides leading questions to get their creativity flowing, such as:

  • Who are the five most enigmatic business owners you know?
  • Have any business owners in your circle recently experienced a major sale or acquisition?
  • In your personal circle, name the five most philanthropic couples you know.
  • Which five professionals in your network do you think would make the best future board members for our organization?
  • If you could give a “Most Generous Spirit” award to five people you know, who would those people be and why?

After researching the names provided, determine if there are any good matches for your organization. Then ask the board member who provided the information to set up an informal coffee or lunch to begin developing a relationship with the prospect.

5. Leverage Social Media
While the effectiveness of giving through social media platforms is still a hotly contested area for many fundraisers, research shows that giving inclination is particularly high for donors who post, share, and comment on their favorite nonprofit pages. A donor’s inclination to make a gift is equally important as their ability to give.

Take the time to review recent activity on your social media pages and cross-reference with giving to your organization. Combined with the simple wealth screening tools outlined above, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be promising prospecting pools.

Looking for more information on prospecting? Shoot us a quick email! In addition to assisting with your existing searches, Write On Fundraising offers full-service grant prospecting services. Let us put together a powerhouse list of prospects for you in the new year!

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