Plan the Work, Work the Plan – Part One

By Lisa M. Dietlin

As most of us know, Americans have a long history of generosity. Even in tough economic times, neighbor helping neighbor is our way of life. We don’t need a natural or economic disaster to occur in order to respond, Americans only need to see the need and how our help can resolve it. What will you be doing in the next few months to ensure they are successful in donating to their favorite nonprofit organizations or in particular to the one for which you are working to raise money?

One of my all-time favorite sayings is “Plan the Work, Work the Plan.” Here are a few easy steps to ensure you are doing this:

First, begin by setting a financial goal of what you have to/need to/would like to raise.

Most of us are assigned goals by our employers via the goals set for the Department. However your goal is determined, own it and be willing to state what it is when asked.

Second, assess who you have in your prospect pipeline.

Are there individuals with whom you have been working that did not make a gift yet but are still supportive and interested in the work your nonprofit is doing? Take stock of which donors from last year might be ready and willing to make another gift this year. These two groups of individuals should be your primary prospects.

Third, conduct database mining.

If you have not, look for individuals who made their first gift in 2013 and conduct a wealth screening on them. We did this for a client and discovered an individual who made a $250 gift in March and had a giving capacity over five years of $16 million. Another list to peruse is annual fund donors who made a donation this year that was much larger than in previous years. Again, conducting a wealth screening could help, but a personal visit or phone conversation will reveal more about why they increased their donation. That type of information and insight is invaluable.

Finally, take time to build your prospect pipeline every day.

Read your local periodicals, blogs and websites as well as the national ones; listen to news programs via the radio and television; peruse listings of best companies, best businesses, fastest growing businesses, business and leadership awards, etc. Look at entrepreneurs who have been successful and begin cultivating a relationship with them. My research on entrepreneurs and their philanthropic giving patterns showed that 8.55 years after an entrepreneur starts his or her business they are ready to begin giving to charity.


Want more help planning your work and working your plan? Check back next week for Lisa’s follow up, where she’ll share additional best practices and tips!

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