Seven ideas to engage prospects

publication date: May 18, 2011
Every organization has a prospect pipeline. At worst, it's an unintentional, intermittent pathway that's full of holes. At its best, it transports the liquid gold of prospects and donors, moving irresistibly forward towards deeper engagement and higher giving.

"Simply put," says KCI CEO Marnie Spears, "the prospect pipeline places cohorts of prospects at different stages of the development cycle (identification, cultivation, solicitation, stewardship) and then measures their progress as they move from an unqualified lead to a donor."

She considers the prospect pipeline so vital to a charity's survival that she's devoted the entire Spring 2011 issue of the company's Philanthropic Trends Quarterly to illustrating and examining it.

In the quarterly, Spears offers seven tips to keep a prospect in the pipeline.

Calling donors just to say thanks That does double duty, engaging both the donors and the volunteers who do the calls.

Creating opportunities for people to volunteer An engaged volunteer becomes a committed donor much more readily than a non-volunteer.

Holding special events Events help people get to know you, your organization and your people. Just be careful not to overwhelm your guests or your target audience with too many. And make them different from one another to appeal to different segments of your prospect pool.

Develop tools to communicate regularly with prospects Be systematic! Regular communication is a crucial engagement tool. It can't be left to those odd moments when you're between other projects.

Make current supporters feel special The Art Gallery of Ontario, for instance, has a Curators' Circle that includes invitations to pre-opening viewings and receptions for exhibitions.

Ask for advice and guidance Asking people for advice can be a simple but very effective way to engage people in your organization through giving them individual time with a key volunteer.

Ask for help Get your current donors and volunteers to help you with the vital, sensitive tasks of building new relationships on the organization's behalf. Acting as a host at a special event can give a knowledgeable volunteer a great opportunity to engage someone new.

Download the latest issue of Philanthropic Trends Quarterly, from which these suggestions are taken.

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