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How to Win your Wish List Donors?


Fundraisers are constantly asked "how can I get connected to Oprah, Bill Gates, insert a famous philanthropist?" or "where do I get introduced to [fortune 500 and very charitable corporation's name]?"

Well,,,there isn't a silver bullet solution to this; however, I am going to share some of my favorite tips for securing those "wish list donors."

First, let's define "wish list donors." These are individuals, corporations, and foundations that your organization wants connected to, but don't currently have a connection.

"Wish list donors" can also simply be new donors (individuals, corporations, and foundations).

So here is what you need to do to win over those "wish list donors".

Create a physical list. That's right, you need to actually create a physical list. So many fundraisers seem very nervous to say the corporations, foundations, and individuals they want connected to and my response to that..."why???" I don't think Oprah is going to say "I was going to give to your very worthy cause, but because you told folks you wanted me to give, then I won't." Seriously, think about it. This fear makes absolutely no sense.

Research, research, research. I have spend close to 2 hours researching the perfect list of individuals, corporations, and foundations. Limit the list to no more than 15 corporations, foundations, or individuals (15 for each category). Too many names is overwhelming and annoying to review.

Change and craft your wish list. This isn't to say that one week Oprah is in and the next week she is out (that might be a line from Project Runway)...it is however to say that you need to customize your wish list for the connectors and donors you want connected to. You should always be prepared for a donor or connector to say "I have 5 minutes. What do you need from me?" Everyone is so busy be prepared to get to your point.

Have a master wish list. This is not to contradict my prior points, but have a master wish list you can post in your organization and visible to donors, board members, and volunteers. This list should be based on the funding priorities, location, and mission/vision.

Identify your connectors. Connectors are people who may not have the capacity and/or interest in giving to your organization, but they are willing to help connect you to those who do.

Engage your donors with your wish list. I cannot tell you how relieved your donor will be when they hear that you don't want to talk about their giving, but instead what to share your wish list with them.

I always make sure to include that we want to expand our donor pool and they're instantly elated to hear that you're not going back to the same well over and over again.

For additional tips and techniques, consider hiring me for your next board or volunteer training or for a project-based consulting role.

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