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How to Find Big Donors

R - How to Find Potential Big Donors

Nonprofits in search of major gifts know that the quest is highly competitive. It requires attention to detail, excellent communication skills, patience — and often a little luck. Finding potential new donors is key to expanding the ranks of supporters, which is why the work that prospect researchers do is so critical. Some nonprofits increase their base of support by diversifying their cadre of big donors; some look overseas; a few set their sights set on the uber-wealthy.

For those pursuing, or just curious about, the world’s wealthiest philanthropists, the Chronicle published a special report this week on the impact of the Giving Pledge, the effort spearheaded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet nearly a decade ago to spur philanthropy among billionaires. The report includes snapshots of donations made by 74 of the 155 U.S. Giving Pledge members to their affiliated private foundations, often entities founded with their families.

For groups looking for less high-profile donors, this collection of tools and articles can help. You’ll find advice on courting tech donors and international supporters, as well as two tools you can use to rank potential donors. One was shared by a college advancement professional who scores people on both their involvement and their giving. Another was provided by a consultant and can be used to analyze the potential of women or other groups of donors who are solicited less often.

Potential big donors may even be hiding in a nonprofit’s own database. Check out the “readiness checklists” below to help you identify those in your own network you may have overlooked. Explore these resources and more to aid your research.