8 Steps that Move People from Prospect to Loyal Donor

It’s often said that fundraising is about building relationships. And that’s true. But fundraising is about building a certain kind of relationship.

Fundraising isn’t just about asking people for a money. Fundraising is a cycle of eight steps you move people through. Asking (or soliciting) is just one of the eight.

So what are the steps in the fundraising cycle? And what specifically can you — and your board members — do to move people from one step to the next? And how do you know when someone is to take the next step?

These are some of the most common questions we get asked when working with clients, and why we created our Moving Prospects Through the Stages of Donor Development guide.

8 Steps that Move People from Prospect to Loyal Donor

8 Steps that Move People from Prospect to Loyal Donor



Identify who can provide the funding for your work/project. Best prospects meet three criteria: financial capacity, connection to your organization, interest in your work/project



Understand how much an individual might be able to give and why they are likely to do so, to help you design a plan that meets their needs and motivations. Assess each potential donor against the three key criteria listed above.



Develop a step-by-step plan for how you are going to engage a prospect towards a solicitation for a specific project or investment opportunity.



Clarify if donor not only meets capacity and connection criteria, but also is interested in deepening their relationship and investment. This is where you discover if they are interested in actually moving forward in the relationship.



Establish a personal connection between the potential donor and the organization. Move prospects from a general interest in the organization to a deeper level of commitment to the work and a real enthusiasm for your success.



Move conversation from cultivation focused to making a specific request to invest in the work/project. Make an explicit request for support from the prospect — at the right gift level, for the right project, at the right time and by the right person.



Formalize donation details in a written agreement. Formalize agreement of donation amount, timing of payment/pledges, and how payments will it be made and with what assets.



Ensure the donor is both properly thanked for their giving and also kept up to date on the impact their gift is making. Acknowledge – in ways that are meaningful to the donor – the important contribution they have made to your work. Communicate regularly and creatively the impact their giving is making. Ensure the donor has an exceptional donor experience.

Download our handy chart that breaks down exactly the focus of each step in more detail, how you know when someone is ready to move to the next, and what role staff and board members play in each one.

Amy Varga

Amy Varga


Amy Varga is a beloved fundraising trainer, coach and consultant. She and her team at The Varga Group have guided over a hundred nonprofit clients to raise millions of dollars through their services in capital campaign counsel, major gifts training, leadership coaching, and board development projects.