If you’ve worked in major donor development for any length of time, you understand the importance of knowing your donors. A key step in the fundraising process is “qualifying” your donors before you ask them for a gift. Successful solicitation requires the RIGHT person asking the RIGHT person for the RIGHT amount for the RIGHT project at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT way. But how do we know when these six “Rights” line up?  Is there a sure-fire way to “qualify” our donors?

John D. Rockefeller advised, “It is a great help to know something about the person whom you are approaching. You cannot deal successfully with all people the same way. Therefore, it is desirable to find out something about the person you are going to — what his interests are, whether you have any friends in common, whether he gave last year, if so, how much he gave, what he might be able to give this year, etc. Information such as that puts you more closely in touch with him and makes the approach easier.”

When you research your donors for a special campaign or project, consider asking these qualifying HASIT questions:

H – Heart for the Lord. Does this donor have a heart for the Lord and kingdom work? Have they demonstrated their generosity through past giving or service? Does he/she give primarily to faith-based organizations? Do he/she understand biblical stewardship? If yes, ask with boldness. If not, do some more research to discover what motivates the donor to give.

A – Ability to give. Does the donor have the capacity to give at the level required to fund the project or need? Do you know their giving history to your organization or other similar ministries? Ask for an appropriate gift amount. If someone’s largest known gift is only $1,000, they are probably not a qualified prospect for a six-figure ask—unless you know some insider information about them. If you’re unsure, you should conduct some type of wealth screening or donor research.

S – Spirit of giving. Is this donor a cheerful giver? 2 Corinthians 9:7 teaches, “Every man should give as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Do you know this person? Is he/she known for their cheerful generosity? If not sure, talk with others who know him/her better. It will make your visit a lot more fun (and productive).

I – Interest in the ministry. Every donor doesn’t give to every ministry just because it is Christian. Does your prospect know about you and support your mission? Some people are drawn to education. Others to medical and humanitarian relief. Others to rescue ministry. Make sure your prospective donor knows who you are and what you do. If your mission and vision match their giving values, you are on the right trajectory.

T – Timing is right. Timing can be very critical in a donor’s ultimate decision to give now, wait until later, or not give at all. What is happening in your donor’s life that would motivate a large gift? What might be a limiting factor? Is he/she going through any personal challenges right now? On the flip side, has there been a recent windfall in their business or personal finances that would open the door to a larger gift? You need to know as much as possible before you make the ask. You rarely get a second chance.

Love on your donors. Get to know your donors. Qualify them according to these five criteria and boldly ask them to partner with you. If you qualify your donors through the HASIT grid, you will see greater success in your fundraising work.

About the Author: Kent Vanderwood, Vice President – Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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