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[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 DonorSearch

[Guest Post] Starting off on the Right Foot: How to Find Great Grant Opportunities for Your Nonprofit

DonorSearch’s blog mostly focuses on prospect research, but we sometimes like to explore other topics in the nonprofit sector. Guest written by Megan Hill, CEO and Founder of Professional Grant Writer, this article shares valuable insights into prospect research for grant writing. 

Starting off on the Right Foot: How to Find Great Grant Opportunities for Your Nonprofit

Grant writing can be an overwhelming undertaking, even if you’re a seasoned grant seeker. One of the most important steps in the process is simply identifying which grantmakers are a good fit for your nonprofit. Each grantmaker – whether a governmental agency or a family foundation – has their own worldview that informs their approach to making grants. Some focus on the environment, with specific goals of preserving endangered species, or cleaning up after oil spills. Others run homeless shelters, fund after school programs, or provide medical services to underserved communities. So, one of the first steps, before you even write a grant, is simply matching your nonprofit’s programs, activities, and goals with certain grantmakers. And the way to do this is through extensive grant prospect research. Most grant prospect research takes place on the Internet. Many grant writers use subscription-based databases like The Foundation Directory Online from the Foundation Center – this is the single most comprehensive database of foundations and corporations and allows a user to search more than 140,000 entries by location, size, subject area, and more. By carefully adjusting these search terms, you’ll find a strong list of potential prospects. From there, these prospects need to be whittled down into the strongest matches. You can do that by clicking on each entry and reading more about the grantmaker. You can also find contact information, grant application guidelines and deadline information, 990s, board information, and see whether they have a website to learn more. It’s important to read through all of this information carefully and thoroughly. It can take a lot of time, but that time investment will pay dividends if you identify the best funders to approach. Writing a grant is time consuming, too, so the more heavy lifting you do at the prospect research phase, the more time you’ll save later on by not sending applications to funders that don’t align with your work. Be on the lookout for information on the funder’s worldview. They may have detailed guidelines buried in their 990, for example, or written out in detail on their website. You can—and should—contact the grantmaker to learn more about what they’re funding and get questions answered before you apply. And by reading up on past grantees, you can gain insight into what they’ve funded in the past and how much money they typically give per grant. All of this informs your approach, and without this careful research, you’re flying blind when it comes to writing the grant. Megan Hill is the CEO and Founder of Professional Grant Writer. She has written grants as both an in-house grant writer and a consultant. A writer by trade, Megan draws on her passion for service and nonprofit work with her skills as a writer. Find Megan on Twitter — @ProGrantWriter.   

By DonorSearch

[Guest Post] Events as a Donor Cultivation Tool

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

Events as a Donor Cultivation Tool

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By DonorSearch

[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 DonorSearch

8 Considerations for a New Major Gifts Campaign

DonorSearch aims to provide the best content available regarding prospect research and its surrounding topics. In an effort to ensure that our readers have access to as much valuable information as possible, we feature content from guest authors from time to time. This week, we’ve reached out to Marcella Vitulli of EveryAction for her insights regarding major gifts.  You’ll find Vitulli’s article posted below.   

8 Things to Remember When Creating a Major Gifts Campaign

Many nonprofits still rely heavily on collecting major gifts to reach their fundraising goals. Major gifts are a great way for many to take care of big chunks of their budget in one (or several) fell swoops.  A single major gift could fund an entire program, a few staff salaries, and give your organization stability and certainty. Sounds good right? However, a successful major gift campaign requires a strategic approach to prospect nurturing and engagement. You need to build a strong relationship with your prospects over a long period of time before, ultimately, making the ask for a major gift if you want them to give. This kind of approach requires you to play the long game, with incredible amounts of focus and planning needed to meet your goals. But fear not! Read on, and become a master in the art of major gifts.

Establish Goals and Objectives

Establishing objectives for your campaign is hugely important as they will guide all communications and outreach, and will serve as a baseline for measuring your success. When setting them, remember to make them SMART, as in: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Target Prospect List

If you want all that planning and effort to count, you’ll want to focus it in the right places. Your prospects for a major gifts campaign aren’t going to be part of the general public – instead, identify people with the inclination and means to help you out. The next step is a description for each of your targets. You should create a profile of each target, complete with a picture. You’ll need to know these people better than your best friend. Here are some questions to ask yourself about each persona:
  • What are the demographics of this person? (Age, education, location, etc.)
  • What goals might this person have?
  • What are their biggest challenges and how do they work to overcome them
  • How does this person find, consume, and share content?
  • What sort of views and concerns do they have?

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