Attracting major donations is sometimes luck but it is mostly the result of careful strategy

    While there are many foundations and individuals to approach, you can’t take a scattergun approach, says Richard Prentice, Trusts & Foundations Manager for the St Vincent’s Hospital Foundation Melbourne.

    1. Cast a wide net

    Find those with an affinity with your organisation’s work, says Prentice. Directories of philanthropic institutions can help to identify how well your organisation fits with a foundation’s objectives.

    He says the best place to begin the search for philanthropic individuals is with your own supporters and networks. There are also services available that can help to identify high net worth individuals in your database.

    2. Put yourself in their shoes

    Think less about what you need and more about what prospective donors want.

    "Younger philanthropists in particular are looking for post-donation involvement. Inviting them to sit on a project committee can help ensure a long-term relationship," says Prentice.

    3. Stay in touch

    "You’ll have a very short relationship if you only contact donors when you need money. Keep them informed about what you’re doing because it can take years, even decades, to establish the rapport that will lead to a major donation," he says.

    4. Ask!

    Wealthy individuals don’t sit around thinking "I wonder what I’ll do with all my money", says Prentice.

    "They may have an affinity with your cause, but the reason they’re not supporting you at a higher level might be because you’ve never asked.

    "It sounds simplistic, but the number of people who pro-actively approach a NFP to donate is very small," he says.

    5. Roll out the big guns

    Many donors want to buy into the vision of an organisation, so it’s important that the CEO or a director is involved in the process.

    "When a donor has confidence in the person leading the NFP, it can make a big difference in their decision making," Prentice says.

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