A Quick Guide to Compiling Donor Prospect Profiles
When it comes to finding new donors for your nonprofit, identifying prospects is just the first step. In order to transform a prospect into a dedicated, engaged donor, you have to cultivate them, getting to know them as an individual and laying the foundation for a lasting relationship.
Cultivation can be challenging, especially when you’re working with multiple prospects at different stages in the relationship-building process. How do you make every interaction as productive and personalized as possible? How do you remember everything you learn about individual prospects?
Here’s your answer: donor prospect profiles. According to DonorSearch, prospect profiles “contain all of the relevant data gathered during the prospect screening process…as well as any other details that a prospect researcher deems important for gift officers to know during the cultivation process.” Essentially, donor prospect profiles serve as your organization’s ultimate source of truth for every prospective donor you’re working with.
In this quick guide, we’ll take a closer look at the process of compiling donor prospect profiles to use for a successful cultivation process. Let’s jump in!
Why You Should Compile Donor Prospect Profiles
Donors don’t want to be viewed simply as ATMs for your nonprofit, especially if they’re just hearing about your organization and its cause for the first time. In order to make a strong connection with a prospect, you have to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework to get to know them as individuals.
On top of helping you build genuine relationships, donor prospect profiles make your cultivation work easier. For example, relying on profiles for contact information and communication preferences can help you build outreach processes that your prospects will respond well to. Likewise, using what you’ve discovered about a prospect’s philanthropic giving history, you can make more informed donation and engagement requests.
Plus, as you get in the habit of actively recording and organizing information about prospects, you’ll develop a greater understanding of your nonprofit’s community. Having a better grasp on your community’s needs, motivations, and preferences will empower you to tailor your marketing efforts and other operations to your knowledge about the people who make furthering your mission possible.
What to Include in Prospect Profiles
During the prospecting phase, you’ll gather lots of information about prospective donors. Let’s walk through what information you should include in your prospect profiles and how to organize it.
There are seven focus areas you should organize your information under:
1. Introductory Details
This section of a profile should serve as a quick view of the current status of a prospect. Think of it as the section you should look at if you don’t have time to look at anything else. It should include the prospect’s:
- Date of Most Recent Interaction
- Giving Status
- Summary of Past Interactions
- Next Moves
This section, primarily the “Summary of Past Interactions,” “Giving Status,” and “Next Moves” categories, should be updated often to reflect your most recent work with the individual.
2. Basic Details
This part of a prospect profile focuses on contact information, like:
- Full Name
- Preferred Name or Nickname
- Phone Number
Since this section contains information that will likely change over time, make sure to practice good data hygiene by keeping everything accurate and up-to-date. You may even consider having your data appended to ensure you have the most useful contact information available.
3. Personal History
The personal history section will include capacity and affinity details gathered from the prospect research process and can guide you in your relationship-building activities with prospects. Here’s what it should include:
- Alma Mater(s)
- Connections to Foundations
- Real Estate Holdings
- Public Stock Holdings
- Social Club Memberships
- Community Involvement
- Hobbies and Other Interests
This information can also be helpful as you look for additional ways to involve prospects in your work beyond just donating. For example, if you learn that one of your prospect’s hobbies is graphic design, you might ask them to help you fine-tune your nonprofit’s visual brand. Or, if you learn that they attended a school that you partner with, you might invite them to volunteer with your organization at that school.
4. Familial Information
Depending on your organization’s mission and focus, it may be useful to include a familial information section in your prospect profiles that lays out:
- Name of Spouse
- Spouse’s Philanthropic Ties
- Spouse’s Professional Affiliations
- Key Details on Children
- Key Details on Other Relevant Relatives
Philanthropic work is often something that prospects enjoy engaging in with their loved ones. Knowing a thing or two about their families can help you spot relevant opportunities to involve them in your work, further strengthening your relationship with your prospect.
5. Professional Affiliations
This section will help you discover more about a prospect’s giving capacity and uncover valuable connections. In it, include these details:
- Employer Address
- Work Email
- Work Phone Number
- Estimated Salary
- Years with Employer
- Relevant Employment History
- Relevant Business Contacts
As you assemble this information, be sure to look into whether the prospect is eligible for corporate philanthropy opportunities, like matching gifts.
Re:Charity’s matching gifts guide explains that matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy in which employers financially match donations their employees make to nonprofits. Educate your prospect and donors about matching gift opportunities and help them use a matching gifts database to check their eligibility.
6. Organizational Connections
The organizational connections section should focus on your prospect’s history with your nonprofit. It will include the following information:
- Date of Last Gift
- Amount of Last Gift
- Total Number of Donations
- Average Gift Size
- Current or Past Board Membership
- Hours Volunteered
- Relationships with Others Involved in Your Organization
If a prospect is brand new to your nonprofit, this section may be blank, and that’s okay! Be sure to fill it out as they get more involved with your work.
7. Philanthropic Ties
This final section will lay out the prospect’s involvement with other charitable organizations. Pay attention to whether the prospect has been involved with causes similar to yours—this can be a great indicator that they’ll be excited to support your organization!
Here’s what you should include in this section:
- Charitable Giving Elsewhere
- Volunteering Elsewhere
- Board Membership Elsewhere
Remember, many donors are willing to support multiple nonprofits at the same time, especially if they’re passionate about a specific cause. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to donors who are currently involved with other organizations—they will likely be interested in getting involved with yours, too!
When to Compile Prospect Profiles
Clearly, prospect profiles provide a wealth of information about potential donors that you can use in a variety of ways—whether you’re meeting with them for the first time, designing a donation appeal, or figuring out how to thank them for a contribution in a meaningful way.
But what situations call for the creation of donor prospect profiles? You should create profiles when:
- Expanding your major giving program
- Prospecting prior to starting a capital campaign
- Planning your annual fundraising campaign
- Strengthening your planned giving program
Compiling donor prospect profiles before launching a big project or when you want to strengthen an existing program will help you approach the process with more information to support every step you take.
Also, think of donor prospect profiles as living documents that you should update and return to often. Ensuring that all of the information you have on individual prospects is accurate and actionable will make it easier for you and your team to rely on profiles as a resource that will help you make progress with cultivating new donors.
Your priority when you discover a new potential donor should be getting to know as much about them as you can and building out a full prospect profile for them. This profile can serve as a key reference and guide every interaction you have with a prospect along the way to their first major donation. Use these tips to get started with creating donor prospect profiles today!