In fundraising when we are trying to measure how close a prospective donor feels to our organization or cause we call it their inclination to give (or to be involved as a volunteer). Sometimes it’s also described as a prospective donor’s affinity or interest.
Inclination is the most important element of the ratings scorecard (which is tallied according to capacity, inclination and readiness) when we are prioritizing donors. Why?
Here’s an example:
Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world. So he definitely has the capacity to make any sized gift to any organization he wants.
We know from his past giving and stated interests that his philanthropic work revolves around solving some of the biggest disease problems in the world. The Gates foundation might give to some other issues, like access to education and software, but generally speaking Gates’s personal aim is to eradicate malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
If you are the fundraiser at an animal shelter in Des Moines, Mr. Gates is definitely capable of completely transforming the future of your organization – but how likely is it that he is going to do that? Sorry to say it, but Mr. Gates is not very inclined in your direction.
That’s why wealth as a rating is important, but it’s not the most important one. Inclination is.
Measuring a donor’s inclination
So how do we rank our donors’ affinity to our organization? Here is a simple system that works for many. It uses a simple numbering system, from 1-7.
- Our organization is their top philanthropic priority. We have a strong relationship.
- Our organization is in their top group of priorities. We have a good relationship.
- They have shown an interest or would likely be more engaged with further cultivation. They have a positive attitude toward our organization.
- Low interest. Significant cultivation will be necessary. Neutral to positive attitude toward organization.
- Inclination unknown. We’ll attribute neutral to positive affinity until we know differently.
- The prospect has no interest in our cause/organization or the prospect feels negatively towards us. Ambivalent or negative attitude toward organization.
- They feel positively toward us but personal circumstances do not allow them to make a gift at this time.
Ratings are generally a fixed number. They’re not usually used as a calculator for something else. But I’d like to suggest a way to fly off the ramp into unknown territory in a safe way that will help you use your ratings to give you new ways to think about end-of-year income.
What if you take those numbers and use them to multiply percentages to estimate gift amounts? Your organization now has a simple way to estimate year-end fundraising goals.
Your table would look like this:
1 =100% (They love us! They’re going to give the whole amount!)
2 = 80% (They sort of love us, but we’re just not their top priority.)
3 = 60% (They like us but we’re going to need to really engage with them)
4 = 40% (There is a good amount of work ahead of us)
5 = 20% (We’re really not sure if they will donate to us, but we are going to get started)
6 = 0% (Forget it. They have capacity but there’s no way they will ever give to us)
7 = 0% (They’d like to, but they can’t right now)
How does it work practically?
Let’s say you have a prospective donor who has a capacity rating of $100,000. You know that they are fairly interested in your cause (but you’re not their top loyalty) and your organization has a warm relationship with them. You would rate them a 2, which would calculate that they would likely contribute $80,000. (100,000 x .8 = 80,000).
Someone like Bill Gates, would be rated a 6 due to lack of interest. No matter what his capacity, multiplying it by zero would give a major gift contribution estimation of $0.
I realize some donors may surprise you and give more – and others may dismay you and give less (or nothing at all).
But this system can work to keep track of who needs more cultivation and provides a basis to set your fundraising goals for the year…or help you discover where you have holes and need to identify more prospects!
Is your organization doing this already? If you’ve tried it, what have you discovered?