Donor Development and Relationships

Identifying Prospects

Where should you look for new donors?

Identifying prospects is a common topic of discussion within the development community. Identifying new prospects can be challenging; however, simply knowing where to start can be half the battle. While there is no magic formula or secret list, there is a model that puts prospect identification activities in one of four categories. This model, known as the Four Ps, can help you identify prospects regardless of your geographic location.

  • Personal Contacts: making use of your existing networks to gain new relationships.

  • Professional advisors: connecting to new donors through the people already involved in charitable gift planning.

  • Partnerships: joining forces with others to access target audiences.

  • Public Awareness: gaining recognition of your identity and impact.

These four areas combine proven and promising practices for indentifying new prospects. For more information on identifying prospects, read the full article, "The Four P's of Marketing," published by The James Irvine Foundation.


Why do we need a good story to tell?

“To intrigue a journalist. To inspire a donor to give. To motivate staff to aim higher. To spark an advocacy revolution. To land a corporate sponsorship deal.”

Stories are the basic building blocks for reaching our goals.

As fundraisers, it’s not enough to arouse sympathetic emotions. We need to motivate people to act on those emotions, to vote with their checkbooks. We need to overcome the painful feelings that come with acknowledging the presence of suffering in our world. Research shows that this is all possible, though it’s not always easy. The most powerful tool in a fundraiser’s bag is to tell a great story.

Strategic storytelling can be done. Let’s start doing it together!”

-Network for Good, Storytelling for Nonprofits

When talking with prospective or new donors, stories are the best tool to convey the impact a person can have on a cause. By sharing the stories of past donors and the impact they have had, prospective donors are able to visualize themselves as part of the solution and more fully appreciate how their gift can impact the lives of others.

To read more about the value of storytelling read the full article from Network for Good, Storytelling for Nonprofits.

For additional information regarding the importance of collecting and telling stories, please read The Nonprofit Storytelling Field Guide & Journal.

For stories of donors who have impacted our region through their philanthropic giving, visit the Community Foundation website's funds and profiles of impact pages.

Providing Assurance Regarding Use of Donation

How to explain that the purpose of each gift is protected and ensured

Each Affiliate volunteer will need to adopt his or her own way of explaining that an individual’s gift will always benefit the particular cause they wanted.  Here is an example:

“I understand that you might be hesitant to send your gift to the Quad Cities. However, I can assure you than any and all gifts that go to the Quad Cities Community Foundation have to be used for the purposes each donor specifies. The Community Foundation is bound by state and federal law to uphold donor intent. If a person or a business wants to make a gift to help this community, they can send a gift to the Community Foundation and restrict the use of the gift. For example, if you give a gift to support the operations of our Affiliate, the Community Foundation is bound by law to put your gift into our Affiliate operating fund.

Similarly, if you start your own Affiliate fund with the Community Foundation and name the purpose – such as a designated endowed fund to support three of your favorite local charities (your church, our YMCA, and the school), the Community Foundation must use your Affiliate funds to support those charities.  The only time they can change a purpose of an Affiliate fund is if one of those charities goes out of business.  And you can even tell the Community Foundation in advance what to do if that happens. Or, the Community Foundation’s board can use what they call ‘variance power’ and they can change the purpose of your fund to a charity that is doing the same or similar work as the one that went out of business. The new charity would have to be local.

The Community Foundation would be out of business if they used your gift, or my gift, for anything other than what we say. They have been doing this for more than 50 years, and are following donors’ wishes on every gift.”

How to explain the benefit of working with the Community Foundation

Each Affiliate volunteer will need to adopt his or her own way of explaining the relationship between an Affiliate and Community Foundation. Here is a sample explanation:

“The ___________ Community Foundation is an affiliate of the Quad Cities Community Foundation. The Community Foundation is located in the Quad Cities. I am a member of a local Advisory Board that works to help our community grow permanent resources to make our community better and stronger. Our Advisory Board chose to work with the Community Foundation rather than starting our own community foundation.  Running a nonprofit requires sufficient assets. If we were to start our own standalone community foundation, we would have to invest in infrastructure:  computers, fund management software, database software, an office, and even staff to run all  the back office functions such as fund administration. In addition, we would have to apply for and be approved as a separate 501(c)(3) charity. That process is costly and time-consuming, because it includes  audits and filing tax returns (990 forms) every year.

By partnering with the Community Foundation, we don’t have to duplicate all the work they have done during  the past 50-plus years.  We have the advantage of their infrastructure, and can focus on talking to people and businesses in our community about how they can make a difference.  It is a win-win situation, because the Community Foundation relies on this Advisory Board to identify community needs and issues, and to provide leadership to our service area.

Our Community Foundation is not a separate legal entity.  We are a part of the Community Foundation, just operating locally for the benefit of this area.  People don’t make gifts to us. They actually make them to the Community Foundation, but  the gifts from donors here are  restricted to benefit our community.”