Every major gift officer wants better prospects in their portfolio. But where do you go to find them since, in most cases, they aren’t just handed to you? It will take a little detective work and time to discover and properly qualify these new leads. Here are five places that any fundraiser, seasoned or new, can check out to aid in the search:

Internal Partners

Some of the best leads come directly from the faculty and staff at your university. With their alumni and corporate connections, these partners can facilitate introductions on your behalf, often resulting with an increased rate in opening the door and landing that initial meeting or visit. Establishing trust and transparency with your internal partners will be critical to your success.

Ask Prospects

When you meet with a prospect you should always ask, “What other alumni do you know that are doing well?” If you haven’t, start now! Often times, this simple question may produce potential leads of prospects that were not even on your organization’s radar. And, an added benefit is the initial introduction they can offer for you.


Sometimes events can be tedious but they are a great place to meet new prospects. If you have access, look over the attendee list prior to the event and formulate your game plan. And, if possible, run a wealth screen report to give you a better idea of the major players in the room. The key to maximizing this opportunity is to be prepared ahead of time.

Your Database

If your office has a research department, they should be able to provide you with a wealth screening assessment of your prospects. But, you can do this research on your own as well. Experience has shown that donors with multiple years of giving yield the best results in finding new prospects. Their giving pattern already reveals their affinity and is a great conversation starter in an initial qualification.


If you are not familiar with the search function on LinkedIn, you should be. This is a great tool to keep handy. LinkedIn’s user-friendly search function can filter specific information in your prospect search. Start by typing in your university name in the search area. Once on the university page, select the alumni tab. From there you have options to narrow your search by “Where they live” and “Where they work.” You can also search by a specific job title. For example, you can look up all the alumni in Chicago that have a job title of “president.”

Recent Gifts

This may seem like a no brainer, but glancing over the list of recent gifts received by donors can be a source for good leads. Since they’re already giving to your organization, a simple follow-up call thanking them for their gift could lead to a visit and/or future giving.

After you find new prospect leads, it is time to start reaching out to these prospects for meetings. For help with that, try our Step by Step Guide to Fundraising Qualification Visit.

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