Wisdom Wednesdays: The Importance of Lead Gift Prospects — Recent study highlights potential of focusing on top prospects

by Kris Kindelsperger

The recent results from the 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, an ongoing partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, reinforced what many organizations have experienced in their campaigns in recent years.

The study examined a population of individuals that had a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their home) and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more.

It is not surprising that this group is capable of making significant gifts.  What is interesting is how much influence they have on philanthropy.  Roughly half of all the gifts made by individuals in 2011 was given by the wealthiest 3 percent of American households.

All Americans are generous, but high net worth individuals are even more so — 95 percent of the top 3 percent supported charitable organizations versus 65 percent of the general population.  More important is the finding that those in the top 1 percent gave three times more than their counterparts in percentiles two and three.

So, the 80/20 rule is clearly passé.  The reality is that a handful of very large gifts may determine the overall success of your campaign.

Want to learn more about how to put these high net worth donors to work for your institution?  Join us in Indianapolis this February at the 2013 ALDE International Educational Conference as Cassidy K. Titcomb, Assistant Vice President for Development, Augsburg College, and I discuss, “Readying Your Lead Gift Prospects for a Campaign!”

Cassidy and I will share proven techniques for identifying significant prospects within your donor pool, as well as tools to rate, screen and track major gift prospects leading up to a comprehensive campaign.  You will also learn valuable lessons on effectively managing your president, campaign chair, staff and other strategic partners to help build relationships and ensure you secure these high-impact gifts.

Learning techniques to strategically manage those high net worth prospects who have this level of capacity is a crucial step toward ensuring a successful campaign.  As the Bank of America Study demonstrates, managed correctly, the time you spend with these individuals will pay dividends.

Kris Kindelsperger is Senior Executive Consultant with Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates of Greenwood, Ind.

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