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By donorsearch

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!   Identify a prospect generator tool that suits your needs.

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: DonorSearch's prospect generator tool can help you quickly create and refine core prospect lists. 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.   Set specific goals for your prospect generator.

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.   Recognize the most valuable data to your prospect generator.

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.   Craft a solicitation plan based on your prospect data.

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: Ready to see prospect research in action?
Prospect Generators: 4 Essential Tips to Find New Donors