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By chris

[Guest Post] How to Utilize Social Insights for Prospect Research

DonorSearch always aims to provide the best content available regarding prospect research and the broader nonprofit space. As such, we welcome guest contributors occasionally to mix things up here at our blog and provide new perspectives. Today, we’re happy to share a post by Solina Powell of EverTrue.

How to Utilize Social Insights for Prospect Research

While some workplaces frown upon employees spending their time on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, those working in prospect research should be encouraged to invest their time in these platforms. Social media has become an increasingly valuable tool for gathering insights on donors. As donors shift their lives online, small actions such as “liking” a post on Facebook or updating a LinkedIn job title can say a lot about a person’s affinity and capacity. Equipped with social insights, your organization can build stronger relationships with constituents and foster more philanthropic giving. Spend some time collecting social data to help tell a story about your prospects. Here are some key strategies to harness the power of social media for more dynamic prospect research.

LinkedIn: Connect and Contact

Are your fundraisers tired of bounced emails or wasted paper mailings? Is your donor database littered with old AOL emails, home addresses, and job titles? LinkedIn is a great solution. While it is unlikely constituents will update your nonprofit with every career change throughout their lives, chances are they’re updating these personal details on LinkedIn. For any prospect researcher, LinkedIn should be key to maintaining comprehensive donor information on employment, location, contact details, causes they care about, and more. =&0=&

Facebook: Build Deeper Friendships

Leveraging the wealth of information on Facebook will help you develop a more in-depth picture of a donor or potential donor. As your organization posts updates, pictures, and videos to its Facebook page, you should take note of who is engaging with that content. Studies show that there is a positive correlation between social engagement and giving participation, so the more socially engaged a prospect, the more likely they are to give. Who is “liking” or commenting on your content? What content are they engaging most with? Facebook is a valuable tool to help assess a prospect’s relationship with your organization, ultimately allowing your fundraising office to develop more targeted strategies. =&0=&
  • Uncover new and/or engaged prospects by identifying those giving your content a “thumbs up.”
  • Prioritize engaged prospects and learn what events, causes, or initiatives they value to help your fundraisers make more informed asks.
  • Millennials make up the largest proportion (22%) of the 1.44 billion active monthly user Facebook population. Thus, Facebook is a helpful avenue through which to gauge their affinity to your nonprofit by analyzing what they “like” and what they don’t.
Prospect researchers are tasked with the challenging responsibility of understanding people whom they initially know little or nothing about. By adding social data into your suite of tools (while abiding by the APRA Social Media Ethics Statement, of course), you’ll be able to craft better stories about prospects and set up your fundraisers for success.    This is a guest contribution by Solina Powell of EverTrue, a Boston-based company empowering 300+ nonprofits with social donor management software. Check out the

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By chris

What is Wealth Screening?

This post was written by Ryan Woroniecki, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch.

When those in fundraising think of wealth screening they think of prospect research and vice versa. The two methods of learning about giving candidates are often mistaken for interchangeable terms. Well, they’re not.

Prospect research is an umbrella term that encompasses the entire field of investigating potential donors to better understand their giving tendencies. Wealth screening is under that umbrella and helps to predict those often mysterious and elusive donor giving tendencies

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By chris

[Guest Post] Prospect Research Metrics and ROI

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:
  1. What are the top three criteria used by management to evaluate your performance?
  2. What are the top five metrics used to place a value on or showcase your department’s prospect research efforts to senior management?
  3. 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?
  4. What are the top three criteria used by management to evaluate the Gift Officer’s performance?

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By donorsearch

18 Crucial Pieces of Data for Your Next Prospect Profile

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.

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By chris

[Guest Post] Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data

Today we’re featuring the work of Beth Brodovsky, President of Iris Creative Group Inc. We’re always looking to give our readership the best content available and want to ensure that we fill our blog with a diverse range of content. Enjoy!

Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data

Who is your audience? Most people answer “everyone.” It’s actually the complete opposite. In fact, you want some people to not understand your message, not connect with your story and not give to your organization. If your goal is to make everyone like you, it’s all but guaranteed that no one will love you.

To Connect, you Need a Target

And you get more points for hitting the bullseye. In fundraising, that amounts to creating a story that is so perfect for some people that they feel you are truly speaking to them. They show up, stick around and give back because they want to be part of something that matters to them – not because you begged them. Knowing your audience is the key to everything.
  • When you know who you are looking for they show up everywhere.
  • You spend your time and money on platforms where you will find them – and where they want to find you.
  • You know what is an opportunity and what is a distraction.

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By chris

A Killer Q&A: Prospect Research Aids Annual Giving

Prospect research and annual giving go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Simon and Garfunkel, like Turner and Hooch. What I mean to say is that prospect research and annual giving are a great pair, and prospect research should certainly be used to assist your annual giving campaigns.

To best explain how the two fundraising components fit together, we’ve provided detailed answers to the 4 most common questions regarding the relationship between prospect research and annual giving.

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By donorsearch

Prospect Research: Importance and Impact

With more information publicly available than ever before, prospect research is becoming an increasingly popular tool for nonprofit organizations to increase their fundraising capabilities. Sophisticated analysis now makes it possible to identify an organization’s best prospective donors, as well as better understand how to approach each one and what size donation to request. Prospect research can help organizations:
  • Identify prospective donors
  • Determine potential gift amounts
  • Formulate ask strategies
  • Segment donors by potential gifts
  • Build guest lists for events
  • Efficiently use fundraising/development resources
  • Reduce fundraising costs

Prospect Research: Definition and Benefits

Would you ask a total stranger for money? More importantly, would you expect a total stranger to give your nonprofit a five-figure, six-figure or seven-figure donation? Before drafting or trading for a player, sports teams prepare in-depth profiles of each prospect, looking at both past achievements and the factors that are most likely to predict future potential. They use that information to weigh different players against each other, estimate likely salaries, and determine which players are most likely to help their team. For many nonprofits, annual giving represents the majority of gifts received, surpassing the number of gifts received from major and planned givers and events. Benefits of Prospect Research:
  • Start and develop relationships
  • Develop approach/engagement strategies
  • Estimate ask amounts
  • Uncover “hidden” donors
  • Increase gifts from existing donors
  • Segment donors by likelihood of giving, capacity to give, and type (annual, major, planned) of likely gift
  • Identify potential board members and organization champions
  • Find more donors who share your values

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By donorsearch

23 Game-Changing Prospect Research Tools & Resources

// Prospect research can seem daunting and overwhelming. There are a ton of resources out there, but there is not a lot of guidance. Maybe you’re ready to get started with prospect screening, or maybe you’ve been in the game for a while and you’re curious about any tools you might have missed. Either way, this list will help. Below you’ll find a compilation of 23, yes, 23, game-changing prospect research tools and resources. For your convenience, we’ve divided all 23 prospect research tools and resources into categories of three.  These 23 suggestions will help fill and organize your prospect research tool belt. Click on any of the links below to jump to a particular category on the tools and resources list.  Category A: DonorSearch Resources

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By chris

The Art of Writing a Prospect Researcher Job Description

People say that ignorance is bliss.  What about when you are no longer ignorant?  That bliss disappears in a hurry. Maybe you’ve been blissfully unaware of prospect research, but now you know. Or, you’ve known about it, but haven’t made screening prospects a priority. Either way, you’re desperate to make up for lost time and excited by the fundraising opportunities. You’ve decided to catch up quickly and you are ready to hire a prospect researcher.  One problem though, you’re new to the entire field of prospect research and don’t know where to start with your recruitment. We’ve got you covered!

Below is a four-point breakdown of the development position of prospect researcher.

Point #1: What is a prospect researcher?

Walk before you run, right?  Well, you can’t exactly recruit a prospect researcher if you don’t know what one is. Just as prospect research varies by organization type, the position is going to change slightly from organization to organization. In the context of this discussion, and a larger understanding of the role, a prospect researcher is a full time member of a fundraising/development team who provides deep background on high quality prospects. More specifically, the researcher will be looking into prospects’ histories with the organization, motivations for philanthropy, and recommendations for solicitations. Let’s unpack that definition a bit. The researcher will be responsible for taking potential major donors and delving into their backgrounds with your cause and philanthropy in general. The staffer will then take what he learns and curate the ultimate solicitation approach for each researched prospect. Prospect researchers should be major gift gurus. Dedicated prospect researchers are most commonly hired by educational institutions. Organizations with full time researchers are hiring those individuals because they’re seeking a good return on investment. At a large, educational institution, one major gift acquired by a prospect researcher can pay that employee’s salary for the year and then some.

Point #2: What will be a prospect researcher’s key responsibilities, duties, and activities?

A prospect researcher will be part of your development team.  We’ve already discussed the general outline of this point in the definition of the role in point 1. This section will serve as a multi-part breakdown of the various responsibilities, duties, and activities associated with a prospect researcher. This list consists of researcher tasks commonly included in job descriptions for the profession.
  1. Using a broad spectrum of sources, the employee researches, organizes, and evaluates a prospect’s financial capacity, ability to give, willingness to give, charitable interests, and connection to the organization
  2. Produces in-depth, well-written reports on prospects based on a combination of data from the donor database, available financial records, real estate ownership, and other markers of high quality donors
  3. Writes frequent prospect briefings for the use of the development team
  4. Implements new research techniques as they arise, striving to design the ultimate prospect research methodology
  5. Works with other development staff to improve the organization’s fundraising strategies
  6. May provide general support to development staff and work on special projects when called for
The job description is going to change based on the type of organization hiring the prospect researcher and the make-up of the staff already in place. Some prospect researchers will be the only ones on staff.  Others might be part of a team that has even more additional prospect research tools at its disposal.

Point #3: What are the respective recommended education and experience levels for prospect researchers?

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By donorsearch

9 Rules for Ethical Prospect Research

From social media to blogs to 24/7 news services, there is more information on people available than ever before. You just have to know how to look for it. Some people know how to block their online profiles from public view or limit the exposure of any online content about them. This is less a problem of making friends than it is a conundrum for prospect researchers who are trying to learn as much as they can about potential donors. Should nonprofits seek ways to obtain the purposefully hidden information? What are the limits to any workarounds? The ethics of any topic is a debate that could last forever, but your organization doesn’t have forever to figure out right and wrong ways to raise money. You have a cause to fund, and without detailed donor profiles you can’t make the types of emotional pitches that excite donors about your organization. We’ve compiled nine best practices to help your organization conduct prospect research in a way that’s both effective and respectful of sensitive information.

1) Focus on acceptable data

It’s obvious that you shouldn’t pursue records that are illegal to obtain, but just because certain records are legal doesn’t mean that you should be looking at them. For example, you may be able to obtain criminal records on a prospect, but for what purpose? Prospect research is not about obtaining any and all donor information in the hope that some data point may be the nugget of gold that you’re looking for. All data should follow two rules:
  1. Be appropriate and pertinent to the specific fundraising campaign and prospect.
  2. Protect all personal information at all times.

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