A prospect is more likely to give if the person asking has a personal relationship with him or her. A 2009 Indiana University/Campbell & Company study examined the characteristics of 8,300 donor households’ largest annual gift. The results illustrated what fundraisers have often observed: people are far more likely to give to people they know—especially when the donations are solicited in person. Donors who were asked in person, by someone they knew, donated 19 percent more ($987, on average) to secular charities—versus solicitations from someone they knew via telephone, mail, or email ($799).
There are three ways in which your organization may have contact with a prospective donor. First, he or she might know a board member, staff member, or volunteer. Second, he or she might have a second-degree connection to a board member, staff member, or volunteer; for example, they may have a mutual friend (if so, see if the mutual friend will allow you to use their name in soliciting a donation). Third, the prospect may be an existing donor to your group. In this case, you don’t necessarily need an established personal connection—you can emphasize your shared commitment to the cause.
You can also look to the following places for potential donor lists:
- Friends or acquaintances of current donors
- Annual reports from similar groups
- Symphony, theater, opera programs, as well as information from art galleries and museums
- Other, further connections: personal telephone books, places of employment, chamber of commerce directories, local businesses, places of worship