By DonorSearch

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If your organization runs on fundraising and donations, you definitely know how important prospect research is. Prospect research, the art of learning more about your donors, is a sure fire way to improve your fundraising efforts and better your marketing strategies. This is because the more data you gather, the better you will understand your donors, their actions, and their preferences.

The best nonprofits will use prospect research tools to measure a donor’s ability to give (capacity) as well as how likely they are to give (affinity). These different tools will go through your donors’ personal backgrounds, giving histories, wealth indicators, and philanthropic factors in order to screen and gain a deep understanding of them. 

Knowing a donor’s giving affinity can really help you figure out who to target during your fundraising campaigns. One of the most essential prospect research tools to measure giving affinity is social discovery. If you don’t know what that is or you just want to learn more about this powerful resource, it’s always good to go over the basics. These are the questions that you and your organization should try to answer:

  1. What is social discovery?
  2. What are important social discovery tools?
  3. How can this impact social media fundraising strategies?

Social discovery can add additional insight into your prospect research process and help your team build stronger relationships with donors. Learning the most about your donors is essential to a smart fundraising strategy, so don’t miss out and read on!

What is social discovery?

1.  What is social discovery?

Social discovery is a buzzword that has been floating around the nonprofit sector. To put it simply, it is a way of learning about people through social media platforms, whether it is from their profiles or the way they interact with others in their social network. Like other online giving tools, social discovery software can help improve your fundraising efforts without your team needing to do much work. 

Whether you’re a nonprofit, a religious organization, or a private institution, social discovery can be used as a prospect research tool and gives a lot of information on donors. It can give you a clue to what kind of causes people may be inclined to support to help you figure out which prospects to approach for a gift. Social discovery can also be used with your established network of supporters as a screening tool to see who would respond better to different engagement strategies.

You might not think that much can be learned by just looking at someone’s Facebook page, but social media is the way that people these days interact with each other, display their likes and dislikes, and express their opinions to the public. Social media is also something that is personally maintained, so you know that you’re getting insight into who your prospects really are. 

Did you know? The typical adult has at least 3 social media platforms. 

To really judge a person’s giving affinity for your cause, whether it is for the first contribution or for another, look at these platforms to give you a clue:

  • Facebook has basic personal information, the person’s likes and dislikes, and their personal network of friends, family, and acquaintances.
  • Twitter can give you a clue to their political inclinations, other people and causes they support, and their public opinions. 
  • LinkedIn is a great resource to learn a person’s business affiliations, places of education, and job histories.
  • Instagram shows you a user’s personal network and can indicate if a person is an influencer based on follower count. 

Social discovery is when you are using different social media platforms to learn more about your donors through their interactions with others, what they post, and what they follow.

You can manually go through each potential or existing donor’s profile if you want and create a dedicated team of researchers in house. But honestly, that can take up a lot of precious time and money that should be put towards actually engaging with potential givers. That is why you should invest in prospect research tools that come with social discovery as a research function.

What are important social discovery tools?

2. What are important social discovery tools?

Finding prospect research technology with social discovery functionality can be tough, but there are platforms out there that offer this functionality.Social discovery can reveal a lot about a person just by looking at their personal passions, follows & influence, professional connections, and contact information. You don’t want to be spending precious time on research and donor analytics when there’s software out there that can do it for you.

What data points should your social discovery tools be tracking? Here is what you should be aware of:

  • Personal Passions – This can be what they like to do, what they’re interested in, how they spend their free time, famous people that they follow
  • Followers & Influence – This is how many people are served their content, how far their reach can go, who their friends and family are
  • Professional Connections – This is their business affiliations, who they work for, who they have worked for, who their employer is connected to
  • Contact Information & Photo – This is good for basic information like a person’s name, where they live, their email or phone number, and what they look like

These factors are good for capturing affinity capacity, philanthropic interests, and professional stability. Knowing this information can help you plan your next fundraising campaign and help you really understand potential new donors, major donors, or recurring donors.

So, what features should you be looking for in your social discovery tools to learn the most and about your donors? Look for a social profile search tool and batch screening tool when choosing your prospect research tool set. 

Social Profile Search Tool

You should definitely make sure that your prospect research technology has the capability to do a social profile search on current (and maybe potential) donors. Using only a telephone number or email, social profile search tools can find someone’s full social media profile with only the click of a button.

Most social media profiles require you to have an email when you make an account, and then from there they ask you to connect your phone number in order to access your contacts. This is extremely useful for your organization because email and phone numbers are pretty easily accessible, so as long as you have one, you should be able to get some information on your donor. 

This is extremely useful if you have a potential donor or an existing donor that you want to learn how to communicate with better. As long as you have either a phone number or email, then this social discovery tool should be giving you a more in-depth scope.

Batch Screening Tool

But what if you want to learn about your entire database of donors? And what if your database has so many donors that it would just take too much time to screen them individually? That is why you should look into a batch screening tool! This can take your entire list of donors and screen them all at once.

Why are these tools useful? Once you have all this information on your donors due to social discovery, you can keep your eye out for common traits. This can then give you clues into how you can market to them or to what types of people are most likely to support your nonprofit. Then you can find some potential donors and form prospect donor profiles.

How can social discovery impact social media fundraising strategies?

3. How can this impact social media fundraising strategies?

Now that you have the right social discovery tools and feel confident enough to use them, you can start thinking about developing your fundraising strategy. One of the best ways to use social discovery with your prospect research is by planning a social media fundraiser. Maybe it’s Giving Tuesday and you want to kick off the year-end giving season or you want to launch a crowdfunding page— social discovery will give you the necessary information. 

Social media is a very important aspect of social discovery as we can learn a lot about donors who are very heavily social media active.

Social media campaigns can be tricky to navigate if you are not as tech savvy. Hopefully, you already have established social media pages on all the popular platforms, but if you don’t, make sure you do. Keep them consistently updated so that your supporters will stay engaged. If people come to your pages to learn more and your last post was from 3 years ago, people are going to think that your organization isn’t active anymore and not think twice about donating to your cause.

Once your social media is up to date and ready, you can start utilizing your social discovery tools and impact your social media fundraising strategies! With these tools, you can:

  • Find which platform is best to launch your fundraiser by doing a batch screening test and seeing which social media platform is the most popular in your donor database
  • Reach out to influencers who support you by using your social profile search tool to see who has a large number of followers. You can ask them to share their support of your organization with their followers to increase your reach and maybe gain new donors!
  • Take advantage of corporate matching gift programs to double or triple donations. You can do this by finding out which businesses your donors are affiliated with and with a gift matching database you can see if that business offers a matching gift program.
  • Target potential new donors by seeing what type of people your existing donors are and basing your campaign on something they have in common. This way other people who are similar might learn about your fundraiser and donate.
  • Start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign by finding out which social media platform your donors tend to spend time on. You can then recruit volunteers from that platform to participate in your fundraiser!

As you can see, social discovery can do a lot for your prospect research efforts and your fundraising strategy. With a social profile search tool and the fact that you can do it all at once with batch screening, all this donor data can be accessible with the touch of your fingertips. 

Speed up your prospect research process and invest in social discovery tools! If you want more information, check out these helpful guides:

Start screening your donors' wealth data now!

Social Discovery: A Q&A Guide for Smart Prospect Research