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3 Tips for Identifying the Right Fundraising Prospects

3 Tips for Identifying the Right Fundraising Prospects 

Given the ever-changing nature of funding in the arts, it’s no surprise that many of the people we speak to here at Spektrix are grappling with the best way to get started. We‘d say that the one thing critical to the success of your fundraising activities is targeting the right people when looking for support. So here we’re going to explore how you might want to go about identifying potential prospects, by understanding the likelihood of them becoming supporters and making sure you have the information you need to start a conversation with them.

1. Identify mixed leads within your database of customers

It’s important to develop a mixed group of leads for the best chance of successfully building a list of people you want to target for support, from people who are likely to give small amounts to those who have the potential to be big donors to everyone in between. Careful thought should be given to the campaign you are working on so that you can plan out the proportion of low, medium and high level support needed to reach your target. Having an idea of the makeup of the different supporters required to make the campaign a success will help you focus your search for the right leads. Here are some things you can do to help find the right people for your organisation:

  • Analyse your data to identify potential prospects. Your ticketing system is a rich source of information on who you should be speaking to about supporting your organisation. Base your searches on types of events people are coming to, how much they spend, frequency of attendance and when they were last in the venue. Look for people who have donated before and those who do so regularly. Consider drilling down further to focus on postcodes of nearby and wealthier areas. All of this data will help you understand engagement and spot those you might want to target for your low to mid level support.
  • Find connections within your organisation. Talk to your board and map out any connections to people you can target for medium to high level support and add these into the mix. Look at corporate partners who might be able to support, but also try to identify employees you have a relationship with who may wish to donate themselves.
  • Consider using a wealth screening service. Depending on the scale of your campaign and your budget, using a wealth screening service to assist with identifying high net worth individuals on your database could be beneficial.

2. Qualify your leads first

Your search for new leads might have given you lots to work with, but it’s important to qualify these before you start targeting them with an ask. As we often say here at Spektrix, work smarter, not harder. Don’t waste resources chasing large numbers of unqualified leads. Focus instead on quality over quantity and discard leads that are unlikely to convert to being supporters.

  • Data is your friend. Break them down into groups using defined thresholds for things like previous engagement, spend or support. Focus on people you think the campaign will resonate with and don’t go too broad. You should be left with a range of prospects who will be easy to convert to supporters, through to those who will need a bit more convincing.
  • Think about the right time to target them. If your searches have identified prospects who have previously supported, look carefully at when, to what extent and what conversations have you had with them since. Ask yourself if now is the right time to ask again. Similarly, try to identify if there are there any historic or outstanding customer service issues with your prospects. These could influence whether or not you should be asking for their support right now, or if there is some work to be done to rebuild the relationship.
  • Consider all options for your prospects. Perhaps think about a stewardship plan for prospects who you decide not to approach for this campaign. It may be that there is another campaign on the horizon that would be a better fit for them, but you don’t want all the work you have done so far to go to waste. Not only will this save you time in the future, but it gives you more time to build up information about them and begin warming up the relationship.

3. Research qualified prospects and fill in any gaps in data

It’s important to research each qualified prospect carefully, finding out why they might have a reason to give to the particular campaign you are working on and if they have the ability to. You can use social media like LinkedIn and board members to map out relationships and help make connections with prospects you have identified but are not yet speaking to. Think about using local business networks to leverage connections for corporate support as well.

Different prospects will need different levels of resource and skill to convert them to supporters. The research stage will help you establish what work needs to be done and who on the team is the most suitable person to do it. Assign ‘stretch’ and high value prospects to the most experienced people on the team, making sure they have capacity to put in the work needed.  

What next?

Using the information gathered during research, plan out a structured communications campaign that can be easily personalised. The aim here is to decide how best to pitch your case for support to the range of different prospects you have identified. Think carefully about what the message should be, what other content to can include to support it and who the communication should come from.

Make sure communications activity forms part of a wider strategy. You should avoid making multiple ‘asks’ to the same prospects or closing off opportunities to make a bigger ask further down the line. Work closely with your marketing team on this, agreeing guidelines to help avoid bombarding prospects with mixed or conflicting messages. You don’t want to send out a promotional email offering discounted tickets, only to follow it up with a request for support.

Ensure your campaign plan allows sufficient time to convert qualified prospects into supporters, particularly those you are targeting for higher level giving . Before you start your communications campaign, use data from previous similar campaigns where possible to identify likely conversion timescales and give yourself the best chance of meeting your target.