Qualified Prospects Overview
In our work with thousands of organizations, staff and volunteers, this is the most FREQUENTLY ASKED (of the BIG, BIG, BIG) QUESTIONS:
Our ANSWER: THIS IS THE WRONG QUESTION!!!
It’s not about ‘NEW’ PROSPECTS, it’s about the BEST, MOST QUALIFIED PROSPECTS!
Why look for ‘New’ Prospects when you haven’t MAXIMIZED RELATIONSHIPS with your BEST and most QUALIFIED PROSPECTS!
Let’s take a moment to actually define a ‘QUALIFIED PROSPECT.’
In Daniel Webster’s world,
QUALIFIED means: “Meeting the proper standards and requirements.”
PROSPECT means: “A potential or likely customer or client.”
In the FOR IMPACT WORLD, the words ‘QUALIFIED’ and ‘PROSPECT’ mean:
A POTENTIAL INVESTOR who has both CAPACITY and RELATIONSHIP!
‘CAPACITY’ means exactly what it says: The FINANCIAL CAPACITY to make a significant INVESTMENT in your CAUSE or your CASE.
CAPACITY can be a function of INCOME, ASSETS or ESTATE, but it has nothing to do with how much you ‘think’ they will give! It’s what they could give if they wanted to!
Special Note: We don’t want to be ‘wishy-washy’ on the topic of CAPACITY:
‘NICE PEOPLE’ with NO CAPACITY ($) are NOT QUALIFIED PROSPECTS!
This doesn’t make them bad people. It just keeps them off your Master Prospect List.
We’re amazed at how many times we’ve heard this out in the field: “We don’t ask because we don’t have a RELATIONSHIP!”
This assumption leads to a lot of bad stuff, including ‘CULTIVATION’ (spreading manure on plants), ‘MULTIPLE APPOINTMENTS’ (with NO ASK), ‘RELUCTANCE TO EVEN MEET,’ (you can’t present if you don’t show up), etc.
‘RELATIONSHIP’ in our world means a relationship with:
Worse, we see people defining RELATIONSHIP as ‘GIFT HISTORY’ and ‘PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP.’ GIFT HISTORY has NOTHING to do with our definition of RELATIONSHIP! (Please read this 3 times… spin around… and read again!)
The GIFT HISTORY only conveys the current response to the current method of presenting the opportunity. It gives no indication of the true relationship, nor does it convey the funding potential.
The other really big RELATIONSHIP misunderstanding is around the Qualified Prospect having a ‘PERSONAL’ relationship or ‘PERSONAL’ contact with the organization. This is not about the RELATIONSHIP to ‘SOMEONE.’
It’s the (in many cases obvious) RELATIONSHIP to the CAUSE or the CASE.
DEFINITION: CAUSE and CASE
The most important ‘RELATIONSHIP’ is the one with either your ‘CAUSE’ or your ‘CASE’ (or, ideally, BOTH!). This ‘CAUSE/CASE’ is a really, really, really BIG IDEA. It can help change the way you IDENTIFY and PRIORITIZE your prospects. Pay attention.
Here are some big CAUSES:
- Domestic Violence
- Lung disease
- College access
- Youth development
The CAUSE is not about you or your organization. It’s about the BIG PICTURE, the VISION, the PROBLEM, or the CHALLENGE. This is a very big deal because it allows you to think way outside the box of who you know, who knows you, who’s giving to you now, etc.
The CASE, on the other hand, is about YOUR ORGANIZATION. YOUR SOLUTION. YOUR SERVICES.
The CASE is where you explain your message, your priorities, your distinguishing characteristics, and more about your organization. Your CASE is the FUNDING RATIONALE of your SOLUTION, SERVICE, or IMPACT. Often, anybody who is directly involved with your ‘CASE’ or your ORGANIZATION is also highly likely to have a strong relationship with your ‘CAUSE’
ACTION PLAN: IDENTIFY, PRIORITIZE, STRATEGIZE
In working with thousands of organizations, we have found that the BIG issues around QUALIFIED PROSPECTS are really a function of not having a SIMPLE SYSTEM to help you know what to do and how to do it.
Here are the 3 big steps, the 3 most important things you need to do when it comes to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT ACTION PLAN:
We are going to go deeper into each of these action steps, but we are going to GUARANTEE that if you:
IDENTIFY a pool of very good prospects …
PRIORITIZE those prospects top down …
STRATEGIZE each of your best prospects …
You will take the proverbial QUANTUM LEAP in your FUNDING and your INCOME!