When is a Prospect a Non-Responder?

You’re the type who never gives up. But sometimes, letting go is the best strategy.

Despite the umpteen efforts you’ve made, you just can’t seem to get a meeting with a certain prospect.  Now, you’re at the point where you need to decide whether to keep that prospect in your portfolio or put him or her back in the pool.

One of the hardest questions facing the gift officer is whether — and when — to drop a prospect who just isn’t responding to your repeated overtures. How much should you try to get a meeting with a prospect before you give up?

You don’t want to give up on someone too soon — or do you?

Most gift officers don’t want to give up promising potential prospects, no matter how difficult getting a meeting with them seems to be.  Yet, smart gift officers also know that, sometimes, enough is enough, at least for now. How do you determine when you’ve reached that point?

Based on consultation and interviews with some of the most effective gift officers in the country who have hooked very big fundraising fish and gotten nearly impossible qualification meetings, I’ve compiled a checklist of indicators for determining whether it’s time to label a prospect a non-responder and remove that prospect from the portfolio.

√ You have sent at least one email or letter stating that you will be calling.

√  You have then called within a week of the email or letter and have continued trying at different times of day and days of the week at least twice more with in a six-week period.

√  You have specifically stated in at least one voicemail and one follow-up email that you would like to schedule a meeting.

√  You have looked for volunteers, classmates, alumni or others who might have a connection either through work, geography, board affiliations, or other means who can broker an introduction.

√  You have followed up by phone within one week of any brokered introduction and have continued calling over a six-week period.

If all of these steps have been taken, and still no contact has been made, then all attempts should be documented in the prospect record, you can classify the prospect as a non-responder, and the prospect should be revisited after 24-36 months.

Please note:  There is much discussion on what constitutes sufficient effort; this checklist serves as a set of ideas rather than a best practice.

What’s missing? What other requirements would you add? How else would you answer this question? We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences. Email Kat Banakis at kbanakis@grenzglier.com.

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