Prospecting Nonprofits with Guidestar.org
Nonprofit organizations can prove to be valued and desirable bank clients for banks of all sizes. Along with lending needs that may arise, they are often times high balance core deposit customers who also take advantage of many treasury management services. If you work for a bank that offers brokerage or investment services, the nonprofit’s foundation and 401K relationships can further enhance the profitability of the client for the bank.
I have been surprised to run across many experienced commercial bankers in my career who are not taking advantage of Guidestar.org. This valuable resource can provide you a great deal of information on nonprofits at no cost and can save you a lot of time by helping to zero in on the most high value nonprofit client relationships.
First thing’s first, head over to www.guidestar.org and click “Create Account” to register for free. Once you’ve registered you can sign in and start building a prospect list.
To create your prospect list, from the main search screen click on “Advanced Search”. Then choose your state and click “Search”. Next, choose your city or the one nearest you and Guidestar will generate a list of nonprofits in the area.
Go through the list…see any names that you recognize? That could be a great place to start. Do any of your clients volunteer or serve on boards at these organizations? What about your coworkers or leadership at the bank…are any of them involved in a nonprofit organization? These are all prime choices to start with as prospects that you can easily turn from cold calls into warm calls. Also notice the income which is displayed as you go down the list – if you work within a specific client revenue size range, you can use this information to make sure you are targeting organizations that fit your lens.
Review the Financials
The next part is my favorite part. Click on the organization name and then click on the tab that says “Form 990 & Docs” to pull up the tax returns for the organization! Man…can you imagine how much easier life would be if we could do this with all of our prospects and clients!!??
Once you’re in, you can look at the most recently filed IRS Form 990s for the organization. Guidestar typically provides 3 years for free and they have a premium service that allows you to go back further and sometimes get more info. Print or save the tax returns. I like to look at the balance sheet section to get a feel for how much cash the organization holds on deposit and review the liability section for any outstanding debt. This can help uncover potential needs for lending and treasury management services. And as I noted earlier, it may also help you to discover opportunities with foundation and 401K funds that could be serviced by your bank’s brokerage group.
Research the Board and Officers
Next go to the “People & Governance” tab to see the details on leadership and directors for the organization. Sometimes it even gives you their contact info. I like to print out this screen so I have all of the names in front of me for the next step.
- Do they have any common connections to you? Perhaps you can reach out to that person and ask for an introduction.
- Do they have any interests in common with you? Where did they go to school? Remember, you are looking for anything you have in common with the prospect that can help you build a connection with them which will always make it easier when you initially speak to them.
- Do they have an email address listed on LinkedIn? In our smartphone-centric world, getting your message directly to the decision maker can be most effective when you target their smartphone – email, text, or LinkedIn can all help you do this.
Making Contact and Next Steps
At this point you are ready to start working towards establishing contact with the prospect. Once you’ve done that, you will be one step away from conducting the first meeting. That crucial step is preplanning. An effective preplan will lead to better execution and a more productive initial meeting. So focus on preplanning and you will be one step closer to closing that new deal!