Linkage, ability, interest are terms often used to describe a donor’s relationship to an organization; they do a pretty good job illustrating the key relationships donor’s have with an organization.
Linkage– You have a connection, or link, through past giving or through a board member or volunteer. Finding this link is often your key to getting a meeting with a donor prospect and the key to closing the gift. Often, whoever you link is should be a part of the cultivation and solicitation process.
Ability– A donor has the wealth or capacity to give a significant gift right now. Especially in difficult financial times, money can be tied up in many different ways. Knowing if a donor has recently sold a business or experienced a financial setback is helpful in rating prospects.
Interest- What issues resonate best with a donor? It is important to know a donor’s interests and if they connect with your specific organization. If a donor is interested primarily in education and you are an arts organization, it will be more difficult to generate giving to your organization.
Without any of these connection points it is difficult to receive any kind of major gift. Often, you will find your major donors will have more than one of these connection points when they first come to your organization. These three categories are the foundation behind much of prospect research and solicitation planning. When connecting with people in your community, try rating them in this way and targeting the individuals you have rated the highest.
Does your organization use a rating system to prospect and differentiate between donors? What system do you use? Have you made it a priority to be on the lookout and search for new qualified prospects for your organization?