Editors’ note: This article, first published in print during July/Aug 2014, has been republished for Nonprofit Quarterly with minor updates.

“Prospecting” can be an intimidating concept, but often the mood changes when you frame it as a simple question: “Who Do You Know?” Offer your board members, staff, volunteers, or member leaders a chance to get creative through this interactive exercise that will inspire them to think concretely about the ways they are connected to people who might be interested in supporting your work, and what they can specifically ask them for.

Goal: Through examining the networks and communities they are connected to, participants will identify at least 25 prospects.

1. Introduce activity (3 minutes)

  • Cite a few stats from Kim Klein’s article, “Prospect Identification: You Already Know All the People You Need To Know To Raise All The Money You Need To Raise”
  • Ask participants: Who are the people that donate money in your community?
  • Explain that most money given away in the U.S. comes from middle income, working class and poor families. Having money and Giving money are not always related, which means, we don’t have to rely on wealthy people to fund our work. The most under-asked people are youth and people of color. When those groups are asked, they tend to give 78 percent of the time.
  • This all means…We Need To Ask! The biggest barrier in fundraising is not asking.

2. Where can we find people to ask? (5 minutes)
In a large group:

  • Brainstorm a list of all the different ways you know people (neighbors, social networks, people you work with, house of worship, etc.)

3. Who Do You Know? (7-12 minutes)

  • Fill out the chart called “Who Do You Know?” on page 16 (encourage participants to draw symbols, but allow them to write if their discomfort with drawing is getting in the way of the exercise.)
  • First, draw with a symbol that represents yourself in the center circle
  • Now, pick fie communities or networks you are connected to (e.g., co-workers, neighbors,
  • people you volunteer with, exercise classmates, health practitioners, political activists, etc.).
  • In each box on the chart, draw a little icon or symbol to represent that community or network. (You can also write it out if you don’t want to draw.)
  • Under each icon, list five to ten people who you think might be interested in the work of your organization, and what you will ask them to do.
  • Example of types of asks: donate $500, become a monthly sustainer at $20, host a house party and invite 20 people, join the planning committee for the anniversary party, etc.

4. Reflection (5-10 minutes)
Report back to larger group:

  • Share your chart: How many people did you come up with? Any revelations about someone you never thought to ask before? Did anything surprise you?