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By donorsearch

Prospect Generators: 4 Essential Tips to Find New Donors

As you begin the prospect research and development process, you might find yourself becoming overwhelmed both with the possibilities and the magnitude of the task at hand. Although it’s never easy work, there are a number of effective prospect development strategies you can follow to ensure the success of your major campaigns. One core strategy is to use a prospect generator when building your initial prospect list.  Prospect generators can be invaluable tools for your nonprofit’s donor prospecting process. By both saving you time and streamlining prospect identification, a generator tool can help drive your campaigns to unprecedented levels of success. If you think that a prospect generator tool might be a good idea for your organization, check out these 4 essential tips for choosing and using one:
  1. Identify a prospect generator tool that suits your needs.
  2. Set specific goals for your prospect generator.
  3. Recognize your most valuable data.
  4. Craft a solicitation plan.
Prospect generators are often the most important element of a successful development strategy. Read on for some crucial insights on how these tools can benefit your organization’s next major campaign!  

1. Identify a prospect generator tool that suits your needs.

To find new prospective donors, nonprofit organizations will typically look toward charitable giving databases to identify prospects with proven potential and interest in supporting their cause. A number of useful databases exist to serve this need, some providing more comprehensive information than others. DonorSearch’s databases cover a full range of philanthropic, wealth, political contribution, and professional statistics that can give you a full view of each prospect as an individual, for instance. However, all this prospect data can easily become overwhelming without the proper tools to for sorting and ordering it. That’s where a prospect generator tool can help. Any good prospect generator tool features the ability to search the donor lists of other nonprofits, helping you to identify proven high-value prospects that already support your issues or causes. Check out DonorSearch’s prospect generator tool for an example of what this kind of information might look like: A great prospect generator tool will contain any number of additional features, like:
  • Search functions to find proven donors by distance or zip code
  • Research capabilities on the complete fundraising strategies of other organizations
  • Detailed information on individual donations and nonprofits
  • Export tools to complement your full research process
Imagine how you could streamline your prospect research and development process with access to this kind of information. Best of all, with a prospect generator tool all this data will be organized and searchable, maximizing the efficiency of your entire prospect identification process. When choosing a generator tool for your prospect research and development process, always look for the functions listed above. Depending on the exact scope of your capital campaign or other major project, you might find yourself needing access to more data and functionality than you initially assumed. When it comes to prospect research, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Find a prospect generator that can cover all your potential needs.  

2. Set specific goals for your prospect generator.

While the purpose of a prospect generator tool is to help you identify and organize tons of prospect data, it’s rarely a good idea to jump into prospect research without any preliminary guidelines or targets. It’s crucial that for every major campaign, you use your prospect generator tool to create a specific and strategic game-plan. The unique goals of your campaign should shape both your overall campaign strategy and the more specific ways that you target and refine your prospect list. A fundraising feasibility study can provide your organization with a clear and realistic vision of your campaign’s parameters, budget, goals, and ideal techniques. All of this information will be important to the ways that you’ll use your prospect generator tool to develop a prospect list. Next, use the results of your feasibility study to answer some crucial questions about your prospect development:
  • How many current major donors can I count on for this project?
  • How many new major donors will I need to attract?
  • What range of giving will help me most efficiently reach my funding goal?
  • What kind of time constraints are there on my donor prospecting process?
  • Which of my donors or prospects will be interested in this specific campaign?
Now, let the answers to these questions guide the ways that you use your prospect generator tool to build and refine your prospect list. As with any significant challenge, setting specific goals for your prospect research and development is key to starting off on the right foot. A great prospect list can become an invaluable road map for your campaign by clearly designating your most important targets and key back-ups. By fully understanding both what kind of prospects you’ll need and also what you’ll need from those prospects, you can ensure that you’ll make the most effective use of your prospect generator tool and hit your targets quickly.  

3. Recognize your most valuable data.

Knowing exactly what you’re looking for is pretty much essential to ever finding it, right? The same applies to your prospect research and how you’ll need to use your prospect generator. The nuances of your goals and the unique elements of your campaign will completely determine which specific data points will be the most useful to your prospect development process. Check out our ultimate guide to prospect research if you need some direction about how exactly you can better refine your targets and goals to make the smartest prospecting decisions. Remember that a great prospect generator and access to comprehensive prospect databases will provide you with a wealth of data points, including:
  • Prospect location and property records
  • Complete giving history
  • Details about the organizations the prospect has supported
  • Political contribution history and details
Fully understanding your own campaign goals will help you to better understand the exact kinds of prospects you need to target, which in turn will guide your entire research process. Since a prospect generator will grant you access to plenty of data, it’s essential that your organization take full advantage of the opportunities this presents without becoming overwhelmed with possibilities. Do this by using your generator tools to identify prospects whose demonstrated interests align with your own campaign and fundraising histories. The alignment of prospect interest and your own nonprofit’s history will be reflected in a specific data point or two. Identify these most valuable metrics, use them to filter your results in your prospect generator and search tools, then quickly build an effective prospect list.  

4. Craft a solicitation plan.

Once you’ve used your prospect generator to identify and filter your prospects, it’s crucial that you develop some effective solicitation strategies. You already used your data to find learn more about your prospects as individuals, so your solicitation plans should be equally individualized, too. There are a number of donor and prospect communication tools out there, which, in combination with your strong prospect data resources, can pinpoint your solicitation efforts like never before. By using your prospect data and knowledge of other organizations your prospect has supported, you can make some inferences about the most convenient ways to communicate with them. Always try to tailor your solicitation plan to the individual prospect. There are a number of ways that a prospect would likely prefer to be contacted, like:
  • Through email
  • Through a personal appeal letter
  • In-person at an event
  • In a private meeting
It’s important that you never take a one-size-fits-all approach to your solicitation strategies. For instance, you might know that one of your core prospects is a corporate executive who supports another organization that regularly hosts large fundraising auctions. A busy executive might be unlikely to respond to every email or voicemail, but you might be able to contact them in-person at the next charity auction and set up a meeting in the future. Alternately, a retiree philanthropist might love the opportunity to share a dialogue on email or over the phone prior to discussing specifics, while the director of a grant-giving foundation prefers to be contacted through official application channels. Initiating a donation conversation with a new prospect for the first time can be difficult, but with the wealth of information provided by a prospect generator and other databases, you can craft the most effective solicitation plan possible. A prospect generator tool is perhaps the smartest investment you can make in your organization’s fundraising abilities.  Targeting your research and building refined prospect lists early in the process allows you to save invaluable time and resources throughout your entire campaign. Prospect databases and generators are an essential component of streamlining your donor prospecting process and reaching new levels of success in your fundraising! Check out these additional resources for more information on capital campaigns and the value of effective prospect research: Our top 5 Steps to Building a Prospect List for Your Next Capital Campaign. With or without a prospect generator, it’s essential that you build an effective prospect list for every campaign. The Top 3 Political Contributions Search Tools from Double the Donation.

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By donorsearch

How to Handle a Sudden Surge of New Donors: 3 Tips

Most nonprofits have a standard process in place for building a relationship with a new donor. It’s likely that your organization does too. The flow is probably relatively standard: someone donates, they receive a thank you, they’re added to your email stream, they might receive an event invite, etc., etc. However, many nonprofits are not as well-equipped to handle when they have a sudden surge of new donors. Whether you have a campaign go viral or there’s an event that causes a peak in interest in your cause, your nonprofit should be prepared to properly steward all new donors, even if they come in bulk. For example, consider the current situations in Houston, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Caribbean. Four separate hurricanes have tragically taken many lives and destroyed entire regions and communities. First, Harvey hit Houston and brought with it severe winds, rain, and flooding. Then, Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean with record-breaking intensity. Everywhere Irma made landfall, from Barbuda to Haiti to Florida, felt the storm’s power and experienced immense devastation. Next, Hurricane Maria built steam as it moved along a course very similar to Irma. Maria hit Dominica and neighboring islands, and then absolutely pummeled Puerto Rico, ravaging the U.S. territory. Most recently, Hurricane Nate hit regions in Central America, including Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and caused at least 28 deaths before moving north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hurricane Nate has officially made landfall in the U.S., largely affecting Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, causing flooding and mass power loss. It is absolutely devastating. And many folks who have not historically been charitable donors are admirably stepping up to help the relief effort (learn more here and here). As a result, many of the nonprofits serving those communities are experiencing a spike in donations and new donors. Those nonprofits now have an opportunity to bring great assistance to the areas affected by the hurricanes, and if they are strategic about how they steward their new donors, they’ll be able to continue providing vital services to the region for years to come. Recovering from Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate is going to take years, and the nonprofits in the impacted cities need every donation possible to aid in their regions’ rehabilitation. It’s a very real and very sad example of exactly why nonprofits need to be ready to make the most of their new influx of donors, with a proper plan. To help you put that plan in place, we’ve compiled 3 effective strategies:
  1. Perform prospect research.
  2. Check on their matching gift eligibility.
  3. Incorporate them into your communications.

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By chris

14-Step Guide for Getting Started with a Capital Campaign

So, your organization needs to raise a significant amount of money for a particular project. This might be a long-awaited renovation for your organization’s headquarters or perhaps another big-ticket project that can’t be covered by your annual fundraising efforts alone. After examining all fundraising routes, you’ve determined that a capital campaign is the right way to go. Before you dive straight into fundraising, there are a number of steps that you have to take to properly plan your capital campaign. To get your capital campaign off the ground, you should: Assemble a capital campaign committee.

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By chris

The 3-Step Guide to Handling a Prospect Researcher Staff Transition

Article written by Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President at DonorSearch. Heraclitus said it best when he stated, “Change is the only constant.” Although it is not always welcome, the sooner we accept and embrace change, the better our lives are. That platitude, though easier to take in theory than practice, certainly applies to the way that organizations handle staff transitions. Nonprofits and educational institutions, just like any other type of employer, have to deal with important staff members leaving and the ramifications of those exits. Putting plans in place to handle and account for the transition of employees, especially senior staffers and leaders, is critical to the ongoing success of an organization. Staff turnover is inevitable. Transitional success is a matter of preparing for and adjusting to the change. For a nonprofit, one of the most valuable roles within the organization is that of the prospect researcher. When it is time to transition to a new researcher, you’ll want to be ready to make the process as smooth as possible.

The best approach to handling a prospect researcher staff transition follows three steps.

These steps cover the entire cycle of the transition. Step one should occur before the prospect researcher leaves the position, step two will happen as the transition is occurring, and step three is to be performed once the turnover is complete.

Step 1: Implement Standards and Systems

This is a preemptive step. It is helpful in general and especially useful when your organization is experiencing change. Standards and systems make a position transferable. Prospect research is an extensive process. On any given day, your current prospect researcher could be:
  • Putting together prospect profiles.
  • Ranking prospects according to giving affinity and capacity.
  • Determining the right ask amount for a certain donor.
  • Assisting the fundraisers with solicitation strategies.
  • And much more.

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By chris

Quick and Dirty Guide to Finding New Donors

This post was written by Jeri Alcock, CFRE, West Coast Sales Manager at DonorSearch

We get it. Although fundraising is worthwhile work and a deeply satisfying endeavor, it’s not the easiest job in the world. When looking for donors, it sometimes feels like you’re losing a game of hide and seek. You know the donors are out there, but you can’t find them.

This guide is going to equip you with the tools to yell “olly olly oxen free” and reveal all the donors you’ve been looking for who have been right under your nose.

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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 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 donorsearch

Prospect Research for Public Radio Stations

Radio is a cultural stalwart.  It has outlasted its naysayers. When television came along people thought radio would disappear. It survived. As the internet rose to prominence, people tried to knock radio once again.  It survived. Listeners can now find their favorite radio stations in the car, on the computer, and even on their phones. Radio has diversified itself as it has grown, and public radio stations are no exceptions.

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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