There are certain feelings that cannot be replicated, like finding a $20 bill in your jacket from last winter or worrying about what to have for lunch and then remembering you have leftovers from dinner out the night before. There’s nothing quite like finally experiencing the benefits of something that was put into action long ago.
Planned gifts accomplish that for nonprofits.
Donations from planned giving can have a major impact on organizations’ yearly fundraising. But they are largely under-utilized, particularly in the United States.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s backtrack and cover the basics, starting with something you have to know for any more of this to make sense…the definition of planned giving.
Definition of Planned Giving
Planned gifts are purposefully timed. No, they don’t have an expiration date, but, actually, they have quite the opposite — activation dates.
Planned, or deferred, giving refers to a supporter’s decision to allocate funds to donate at a future date, typically years away and, most commonly, at death.
There are a few things to note about that definition. Although there are some minor differences between planned and deferred giving, for the purposes of this article they will be used interchangeably.
Planned gifts are exactly as they sound, planned. They are usually granted through wills or trusts, and they can even encompass something like leaving property to an organization.
For instance, a supporter of an environmental organization might choose to leave his land to the organization for its use.
Guest Post by Margaret King, Founder/President of InfoRich Group, Inc.
Recently, I asked Prospect Researchers to complete a brief survey to help me understand how they measure the value of the work they perform. The survey consisted of four questions:
What are the top three criteria used by management to evaluate your performance?
What are the top five metrics used to place a value on or showcase your department’s prospect research efforts to senior management?
What top three metrics would you like to add within the next 12 to 24 months to help place a value on or showcase your department’s prospect research efforts to senior management?
What are the top three criteria used by management to evaluate the Gift Officer’s performance?
Have you ever been asked the quintessential superpower question…would you rather be able to read minds or fly?
I know what fundraisers would answer. Read minds. It would make their jobs a lot simpler.
Fundraisers are constantly busy and constantly being pulled in a thousand directions. It is not an easy job, but it is a satisfying one. For every dollar brought in by the development team, that is another dollar that can go towards fulfilling an organization’s mission.
A fundraiser has to be able to connect with and anticipate the needs of a donor prospect. Reading minds would certainly help with that.
Since reading minds isn’t possible (yet), prospect research is the next best thing.
Prospect research gives nonprofit employees a well-rounded understanding of donors: what influences them, what their donation capacities are, and what the likelihood of them donating is.
Prospect research helps build out and fill in donor profiles. Those nonprofit prospect profiles are going to range from comprehensive to minimal.
We’ve compiled a list the 18 crucial pieces of data to include in your donor profiles.
Ah, the tricky business of interviewing. It is difficult in any field, as both the interviewer and the interviewee.
The person doing the interviewing has the challenging job of balancing selling the position and assessing the skill-set of the potential employee.
And, well, we all feel for the potential employee. Who hasn’t arrived way too early for an interview only to sit in your car for twenty minutes until you’re ‘appropriately’ early? Or, who doesn’t leave an interview and then just play the discussion ad infinitum for the foreseeable future?
Okay, so maybe I’m projecting my own anxieties, at least slightly. But, truthfully, interviews and the hiring process can just be incredibly stressful for all involved.
If you’re looking to hire a prospect researcher, you want to ensure you’re hiring the best candidate. Prospect research can be hugely beneficial for fundraising organizations, but those organizations need to have the right resources and people in the place to help steer their efforts in the right direction.
This guide is designed to lead you through the prospect researcher interviewing process.
Approach the interview with a solid knowledge of what the researcher’s place will be in your organization and what will be expected of him or her, so that you can best cater your questions to determining if he or she is the right fit.
Prior to the Interview
You’ll want to assess the current state of your organization’s prospect research before any candidates walk through the door.
Think through the following questions:
Do you already have a system of prospect research in place?
Will the new staffer be establishing a new system?
Who will the researcher be working with?
What tools will you provide to aid the position (i.e., services from a prospect screening company, like DonorSearch)?
Creating a Prospect Researcher Qualities “Wish List”
These preferences will vary depending on your answers to the above questions, but, in general, contenders for the job should be:
Researchers first and foremost (if this is an entry-level position, look for evidence of research skills in academia).
Inquisitive and willing to chase down donor data.
Proficient with databases.
Effective oral and written communicators.
Able to work independently and as part of a team.
Understand the inner-workings of fundraising.
Discreet and capable of handling confidential and personal information.
When you know what your organization needs from a prospect researcher, it’s time to get to interviewing.
For the purposes of this discussion we’ll be breaking our recommended interview questions into three categories:
Place in the Team
Once we get to prospect research, we’ll cover both questions for entry-level candidates and those applying for higher-level positions.
Every good interviewer needs to do a basic personality and general assessment of the interviewee. These are what we’d consider the universal questions slightly skewed to nonprofits.
What appeals to you about the role?
What is your understanding of the position?
Why do you want to work for a nonprofit?
How would you explain our mission to a potential donor?
Where do you see yourself in a year, three years, five years, etc.?
Who is your professional role model?
What nonprofit, besides this one, do you think has an impressive fundraising model?
Tell us about a time when a professional project went badly and how you handled it.
How would you handle a disagreement with your supervisor?
This list could go on and on. Try to find a good mix of easier questions, designed as a point of entry, and more specific, challenging ones. It also never hurts to throw in one or two fun ones that reveal more about the applicant’s personality — like, what’s your favorite television show?
#2: Place in the Team
Whoever you hire is going to be working closely with your entire development staff. The new staff member might have other prospect researchers to work with or have to coordinate with communications staff.
A successful nonprofit runs like an engine, multiple parts working side by side, fulfilling a common goal. A prospect researcher can’t simply be database bound, head in a computer all day. Researchers have to have good chemistry with your team.
You’ll need to dedicate a line of questions towards this, such as:
Tell us about a time when you had a bad experience working with a team.
Tell us about a time when you had a great experience working with a team.
How do you balance the needs of multiple people?
Would you consider yourself someone who is better as a team member or team leader?
How do you prioritize your own tasks and tasks others need assistance with?
Later in the interviewing process, maybe during a second interview, you could introduce the candidate to a few of the staffers whom he or she would be working with daily and get feedback from them, in addition to the supervisor.
Additionally, you could have the candidate perform a project where he or she has to work with other members of your team. This allows other people to get to know the candidate a bit better, and you’ll be able to see how the candidate interacts with your existing team.
#3: Prospect Research
These questions are the main course of the interview. You’ll be asking somewhat different questions of those applying to an entry-level versus a higher-level position, but in the end you’re looking for similar qualities and skills.
A) Entry-Level Position
What is your understanding of the position and the role you would play as an employee?
What past experiences have you had with fundraising?
What drew you to prospect research?
How do you usually perform research, say, for an academic paper?
How would you handle prioritizing two important tasks?
Do you consider yourself more of a data-driven and detail-oriented or a big picture researcher and analyst?
B) Higher-Level Position
Tell us about one success and one failure you’ve had in the past regarding prospect research.
Here at DonorSearch’s blog, we strive to include the best content we can regarding prospect research and, more broadly, the nonprofit sector. With that goal in mind, we feature posts by guest authors from time to time to bring in a fresh perspective and new ideas. This guest post was written by Samantha Swaim of Swaim Strategies.