meaningfulrelationships 2016-Apr04
In just the last day I have received four unwelcome offers:

  • Attention: we are buying and selling laptops
  • Try us for a month. No contracts. Great leads
  • Discover our April edition…
  • 300,000 businesses reveal their top reasons for using our service.

You must experience this just like I do. All of these people are doing the same thing: they are looking for “qualified buyers” for some service or product. Why? Because it is common knowledge that not everyone wants every product or service – so it is smart to have a qualification process in place, to figure out who might be willing to entertain an offer.
If the business can figure out who is inclined to buy, then they save money in the sales process. Qualifying customers (developing “warm leads”) has been happening as long as sales has been a necessary function of a business. It makes sense. And it saves money.
What is interesting about most of the offers I receive is that they have NOTHING to do with my area of interest. Nothing. And I wonder who in the marketing department has told the lead generation person to add me to the list of people to contact. There is a huge problem here.
But this situation is not unlike many targeting decisions people make in major gifts. They assume that just because a donor gave a large gift, she actually wants to relate to someone in the organization. So they start sending offers to that donor (much like the offers I am getting from businesses) that the donor does not want, nor is she interested in.
This is why we recommend qualifying donors who have given recently, at certain amounts, at a certain frequency – and who may have greater capacity than other donors on your file. These donors, unlike my situation above, have voted with their purses and wallets, a key data point to pay attention to. And if they respond positively to the qualification process, you have actually succeeded in sorting out those who have given and want to relate from those who have just given.
It always amazes Jeff and me that some MGOs have donors on their caseloads who gave a sizeable amount four years ago and haven’t given since. That’s a very important clue about those donor’s intentions, isn’t it? But many MGOs do not pay attention to these very clear signals, so they waste space on their caseloads with donors who will never again re-engage.
So what’s the objective of qualifying? I wrote about the three foundational reasons in my last post. But the overarching objective is to have meaningful connections with your best donors. That is the sole objective of qualifying. Among all of those good donors on your file who give the most, could give the most and who have given most recently – you’re trying to figure out who of that group of donors actually wants to connect in a more personal and meaningful way.
That meaningful connection might be on the phone, in person, in an email or through some other form of connecting. The donor will tell you because you are going to ask that critical question in the qualifying process.
“What? I thought that the primary objective of qualifying was to get a gift!” Nope. The getting of a gift is a result of a meaningful connection. It is not the objective. Remember, major gift work is NOT about the money. Money results from a meaningful connection where the donor is now certain that he can do something meaningful for our hurting planet and its people. And because he is certain, he gives a gift.
So as we further discuss qualifying donors in this series, remember that you are trying to find those recent and high-capacity donors in your file who want to connect. And once found, you want to have meaningful connections with them.
In my next post, I will discuss the first step you need to take to qualify donors. Stay tuned.
Read the whole series: How to Qualify Donors

  1. An Introduction
  2. Why Qualify?
  3. What’s the Objective?
  4. The First Step – A Caseload Pool
  5. The Process of Qualifying
  6. Dealing with Objections