Volunteers and Board members are very busy people. They have jobs, families, and other obligations. However, many of them do care so very much about the organizations that they are serving.
Many of these same volunteers know people within their networks, and they want to use their networks to help the organization. Many have multiple non-profits that they serve, and they have been sending out “blanket” quid-pro requests. They want to become more active, but they just don’t know how. Their intentions are there. As a development person, I say this is your job to help that volunteer to make sense of their prospects and to help them to think through the process.
So, here are some step-by-steps on how to use prospect rating sessions to help your volunteers to become more efficient.
1.) Sit with the volunteer, Board member, or even staff person to help them develop a prospect list from all of their key contacts. A “treasure map” exercise works well to help them think through all of their networks.
2.) Develop a ranking system for capacity and interest. For capacity, you may want to assign a number for specific gift amounts, i.e., a five indicates a potential capacity of $25,000 or greater, a 4 indicates a potential capacity of $10,000-$24,999, etc. You can also use a similar ranking system for interest as well as affinity, i.e., 5 indicates strong interest in or affinity for the cause, etc. You will note that these rankings are “weighted” with those having the greatest capacity and interest bearing the higher number. How do interest and affinity differ? Interest is actual engagement in your organization and affinity is showing a relationship with other similar causes or social issues.
3.) Review with the volunteer or staff member each of the prospects on their list. Rate each prospect for interest, affinity, and capacity.
4.) Once you complete this ranking session, take this information and place it in a spreadsheet where you can begin to tally the numbers. You may also want to do a wealth screen at this point if you have access to a tool to do so. A wealth screen while not infallible will uncover other potential capacity and affinity markers. How do you tally the numbers? You add up the capacity, affinity, and interest rankings and total them. The higher the total, the “better” the prospect regarding their interest in the organization or the cause and their capacity to give.
If you would like a sample prospect rating spreadsheet, email me for your copy!
5.) Bring this ranked list back to your volunteer and discuss the rankings with them. Help them select the top 10 or 5 or whatever number of prospects that the volunteer feels comfortable working with on behalf of the organization.
6.) Once you have identified and selected the top prospects with the volunteer, then you need to develop an individualized strategy for each prospect on the list. Each donor is different. They have different motivations for giving, different ways that prefer to be asked, and they all have different interests. We can’t treat all prospects as the same. Blanket approaches don’t work when basing your work on transformational giving rather than transactional.
7.) Once you have a defined strategy for each donor documented, it is time for you and the volunteer to enact the plan whether it be further cultivation, solicitation, or stewardship. Continue to check in with your volunteer and be sure to hold them “kindly” accountable to the strategy.
I can assure you that Board members, volunteers, and staff do want to assist the organization if you have built a “culture of philanthropy.” They just need the tools and the support from the development staff person to get started. Just as we can’t make assumptions about our donors, the same holds true about our volunteers. Many are fearful of trespassing on their relationships in a quid pro quo manner. However, if you show them the process, they understand that you are indeed only working with those who have a high interest and affinity in your cause.
Once you begin enabling your volunteers in the process using the prospect rating strategy above, I can assure you that you will have willing and able volunteers who will go onto actually raise transformational gifts.
Use this strategy for your upcoming annual appeal process and watch your year-end engagement and giving soar.