The Most Important Lists in Fundraising

Posted on 10/05/2016 - by Dan Allenby

list-imageLists are a crucial tool in fundraising.

While many in the profession may claim to use lists regularly, the true value of list making and list management is often under-appreciated.

Here are the 4 most important lists that every fundraiser should know, understand and utilize to ensure their success:

  1. To do lists: These are at the core of every good fundraising strategy. They outline the specific tasks you want to perform today, this year, or this campaign in order to secure the donors, the dollars and the volunteers you need to advance your institution’s mission and achieve your goals. Plan your work, and work your plan.
  2. Prospect lists: These include the names and other important pieces of information needed to generate appeals, produce event invitations or secure meetings. They help you analyze and prioritize your audience, determine who is most likely to respond, and create personalized messages. The data they contain can be pulled from a variety of sources including your own database, social media or peer referrals. It’s best when they contain information from all three.
  3. Donor lists: These are also known as “honor rolls” or “donor rosters” and include the names of your current supporters. In addition to being a good means of stewardship, they can also be an important cultivation tool. A self-conscious non-donor who notices that their name is missing from the honor roll may be more motivated to donate next time. Nothing makes an impression quite like the sound of one’s own name or seeing one’s own name in writing.
  4. Competition lists: These include the names of other nonprofits that qualify as “philanthropic priorities” to your prospects. Knowing which organizations they support can give you a sense of how philanthropic they can be and what’s important to them. While there are a variety of sources for this information, don’t be afraid to engage your prospects directly in a conversation about it. Start by asking them who is on their philanthropic priority list. Then, ask them what it will take for your institution to get on, stay on or move up on it.

In many ways, fundraising is a business of lists. The better your lists, the better your outcomes.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Research and Prospect Management.