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February 2015
Pan For Gold Like A Pro              
Three Ways To Use External Sources To Build Your Prospect Pipeline
As a researcher, my clients often ask me how to build a prospect list from external sources—panning for gold, if you will. Sometimes the need for a list is because an organization is starting a new program, sometimes it is because the organization is concerned about new donor acquisition—or the lack thereof. In the December 2014 issue of my newsletter I discussed why we need to develop a prospect pipeline and/or acquire new donors; in this issue I am going to discuss how to build that pipeline using external sources like a pro.
One of the most common ways to acquire new donors is to rent or exchange donor lists with other organizations. If you decide to rent a list, I recommend you consider using a list broker because the broker can help you navigate the hundreds of thousands of lists available while advising you on the one that will likely be the best for your purposes. Before you contact a list broker:
  • Write down how you would describe your current donor.
  • Decide whether you want to rent or exchange a list.
  • Determine your budget.
To learn why using a list broker is a good choice, visit That List Lady’s website.
Another way to build your pipeline is to ask for names from your board, staff, and volunteers. It is surprising how many organizations do not ask the people closest to them whom they know as likely donors. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has a tool called The Webbing Exercise to help you get those closest to your organization to provide the names of people they may know as likely donors. You can download AFP’s The Webbing Exercise tool here. These types of exercises often reveal networks and spheres of influence that may help take your organization to the next level. Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE, explains The Webbing Exercise here.
Fundraisers know there must be three things present (a/k/a the three-legged fundraising stool) before a prospect becomes a donor:
  • The prospect must have an ability to give.
  • The prospect must be philanthropic.
  • The prospect must have a connection to our organization.
It is fairly easy to develop a list of prospective donors meeting the criteria for two legs of the fundraising stool—the ability to make a gift, and those who are already philanthropic. But, we generally want to also identify prospects who might have a connection to our mission. Next we are going to use our internal insight about our donors and research to build a better list.
Before we start our research, we need to use the insight we have about our existing donors. If we are lucky enough to have a data mining person on staff, that person will help us build a really solid list of the attributes of our best donors. If we don’t have a data miner on staff, we’ll need to write down the attributes of our best donors—where they live, do they seem to work for one or two industries, are they of a particular age or gender, etc.
Once we have a clear sense of our potential donor, we can create a list of prospective donors that have the ability to make a gift and are already philanthropic (two legs of the three-legged fundraising stool). To compensate for the third fundraising stool leg, we’ll look for gifts made by these prospects to a mission-similar organization. By understanding the best prospect attributes, we can use the attributes as search criteria to develop our list. When we add to our strategy the attribute of past giving to mission-similar organizations, we are representing the third leg—the connection to the organization attribute—in our list building. (It may not be a direct connect to the organization per se, but it’s as close as we can get.) By using insight and research, we can create a list of prospects with a propensity to give and whose interests are closely aligned to our mission., iWave’s PRO, and WealthEngine’s FindWealth8 offer list-building capabilities that are worth investigating.
Do you need help panning for gold? Contact us for a free prospect identification and list development quote.
Contribution Limits Update
2015 Changes to Federal Campaign Contribution Limits
In the January issue of my newsletter, I laid out the who/what/where of federal election campaign contributions, looking at individual contribution limits which were largely in place due to the 2002 McCain/Feingold Act for campaign finance reform.
Now comes the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill which dramatically undercuts the 2002 McCain/Feingold Act by increasing ten-fold the limits that individuals may contribute to federal elections. The new individual limits include three new contribution categories:
  • Party Presidential conventions
  • Party building expenses
  • Election Recounts.
Each of the above categories has a 2015 contribution limit of $97,200. Additionally, individual donors can still contribute up to $32,400 to a national party. For example, a donor who gave the maximum contribution last year of $32,400 would now be able to contribute up to $324,000 when all of these categories are considered.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has said it will issue guidance on these changes as soon as possible, however, as of this writing, the FEC has not updated its website with these new limits. Stay tuned.
Read more about the changes in this Washington Post article.
Send us your comments.
I welcome your ideas, comments, and suggestions.
If you've enjoyed this issue of my newsletter, please tweet about it, send it to a friend, or otherwise pass the newsletter on to your friends, family, and colleagues.
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Margaret King
President, InfoRich Group, Inc.
Need Help?
Let InfoRich Group, Inc. act as your prospect research department
We are just a phone call or email away. We are expert prospect researchers. Let us help you discover the wealth within your prospect pool or help you find new donors whose philanthropic goals match your organization’s mission.
We can act as your prospect research department, or help you when you have too much work to do and too little time to complete it.
Contact us now for a free quote.
Don't be business chaff
Nothing will reduce your perceived IQ faster than bad grammar.  
It's the way intelligent business people separate the wheat from the chaff.
Joann M. Wleklinski is an editor extraordinaire and the owner of Wleklinski Information Services. She wants your writing to sound really good – and yet still in your own voice – and she can accomplish that for you. She is the editor-in-chief of AIIP Connections, copy editor of, and former editor of The Informant, an SLA chapter newsletter. She recently edited The Guide to Online Due Diligence (BRB Publications), and is herself a published author in both book and magazine formats.
Joann works to align your content for clarity, length, and style. She'll copyedit content for accuracy and readability. She'll turn non-native English into Standard English. Joann can also help you put words and data together to make sense whether it be on your website, in user's guides, or for instruction or procedures manuals. Need to put together an executive summary, an industry overview, or a company profile? Joann can help with those as well.
Don't be business chaff.
Contact Joann. So your writing can be the best it can be.
Joann M. Wleklinski
Wleklinski Information Services
219. 838. 5439
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