I actually get asked this quite a bit. And the short answer is – no! My job is to help your organization to better understand fundraising best practices, not to play donor to organization matchmaker. And remember that part about fundraising being all about relationships? Why do we forget all about that when we want to ask someone with a lot of money to support our cause?

Whether someone has a lot of money is not the only thing you should care about. When determining who you should focus your energy on for major gifts, you should be considering three things, or LAI: Linkage, Ability and Interest.

Linkage – Does this person have some link to your organization? Does anyone in your current network have access to this individual? Has this person ever heard of your organization?

Ability – Yes, it is helpful to know whether someone has the ability to give. But remember that this is only one of the three things we’re looking for.

Interest – Does this person care about what you care about? Sure, you can ask anyone. But if you want to spend your time wisely, you will ask people who have shown an interest in charitable giving, and specifically, and interest in what you care about.

When you look at all three of these, it becomes much more obvious who you should spend your time on when it comes to major gifts. Try going through your list of “prospects” and give each of them a subjective score in each of these areas. Spend your time on those with the highest total score when you add all three together.

But make sure you don’t forget about your existing donors. They have the highest possible score in at least two of the three areas. Don’t make the mistake of throwing away a donor who has direct linkage to and specific interest in your organization, just because they don’t have as much ability as that person with a lot of money.

So, no, I can’t help you find people with a lot of money. But chances are, you can help yourself find people who will really be dedicated to your organization long term by using this LAI formula. Remember that next time a board member says you should be asking Oprah or Bill Gates for money!