Are You Using the CIA
For Fundraising?

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

No…driving over to Langley is not a new way to conduct fundraising research.

(Although I know some fundraising teams that could rival most intelligence agencies when it comes to collecting information about their donors!)

When I speak of CIA, I’m referring to Capacity, Interest, and Affinity, the three elements that help us assess potential major donors.

  • Capacity. Does the prospective donor have the ability to give at a significant level? There are many tools to assess wealth, ranging from subscription-based wealth-screening software, like iWave, to simple home value estimators, like Zillow.
  • Interest. Does the prospective donor have an interest in your organization’s mission or work? This can be evaluated by considering the donor’s other philanthropy, board service, history with your organization, business affiliations, or personal interests. Again, many online tools, Google searches, or LinkedIn profiles may help discern a clear profile.
  • Affinity. Do you have any relationship or connection to the donor? Please stop a moment and read this again. Now read it one more time because it’s that important. You must think who can connect you to this donor or how you can reach this donor.

Nearly every week I hear from nonprofits who are hoping for a gift from some billionaire in the news.

Does he have capacity? “Yes! He is rich!”

Does he have an interest? “We think so from his other philanthropy!”

Who will connect you or how will you connect? Crickets.

So, here’s your next action step: List your top major prospects and add in a column for “Affinity” or “Connectors.” Spend some time at your next planning meeting thinking about your engagement strategy for each prospect. This may take some time, but it will bear fruit.

Good luck and let us know how the AC Fitzgerald team can help!

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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