We're now going to take up the challenge expressed so succinctly by Cousin Judy. How do we know if a funding prospect is good enough for us to pursue?
Through the use of the funder selection strategy.
The funder selection strategy is the step that comes before you conduct prospect research. It's the exercise where you identify the qualities, values, and other “soft” characteristics of your most beloved donors. You determine the motivations that drive those donors to engage and remain engaged, and describe the nature of the relationships you have with those donors once they are engaged. Funder selection strategies are based on the notion that, if you know what kind of relationship you seek with your best donors, and if you design your methods of cultivation and retention to maintain those relationships, more and more of the donors you acquire will match the ideal-funder profile.
If you develop your funder selection strategy carefully and then actually use it to drive development, eventually all your funding sources will come to resemble the ideal ones. In other words, all (well, most) funders will engage with your organization and remain engaged with it, regardless of the size of their gifts.
I wish I could say that corporate sales organizations have cracked the code of customer selection, but for the most part, they too are in the same boat as development professionals. Even when the boss provides reasonable standards and criteria for qualifying ...