What is prospect research?
Prospect research, also known as donor research, donor screening, or prospecting, is a fundraising method which enables you to discover details about donors and prospects. It helps you to find details like their funding priorities and focus areas, personal backgrounds of the funders, funding histories, philanthropic motivations and much more.
Non-profit organizations, fundraisers, fundraising consultants and development teams use this method to assess the prospect’s desire to fund a particular cause and their capacity to give. Since finding major donors is essential for sustainable funding, prospect research should be an integral part of fundraising.
Why perform prospect research?
Prospect research helps your entity to gain valuable data and insights on the potential donors, enabling you to choose which donors to focus on. Therefore, you can spend your time talking to more suitable and responsive donors, hence increasing your donations.
You can discover and assess fundraising opportunities, update donor information and have a list of donors to cultivate. The data you get from prospect research is vital because it gives you relevant knowledge about the donors, and this will help you craft communications that donors will respond to. How to carry out prospect research Analyze and clearly state your funding needs and priorities, goals, targets, and timeframes. Make a plan for achieving these goals, set targets and distribute tasks.
Look at the current information/data regarding current donors, clean up and update information. Use a donor database to research and find prospects. Learn about their funding priorities, giving history and focus areas. Finally, make a list of the most appropriate donors – your prospect list. Once you have the list, you can start talking to the donors.
Who can perform prospect research for an organization?
Prospect research can be done by your fundraising team, a prospect research consultant or a company that carries out prospect screening. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Your fundraising team
If your entity has the resources in terms of staff available to do the research, it is always a good idea to do it yourselves. Doing this will build your entity’s capacity since they will develop skills in research and know where and how to get the information. In addition, the team can use funding and donor databases available to uncover new donors.
A prospect research consultant
A prospect research consultant will save you time and improve your fundraising revenue since they have the experience and expertise needed to start fundraising immediately. They will also help train your staff on prospect research and strategies to communicate effectively with the prospects.
A prospect research company
These are companies that specialize in prospect research. They will save time by screening several sources and databases and organizing the data. These companies know what information is needed and how to get it. They will present organized data in a very short period, saving you time and making it possible for your staff to focus on important tasks and work towards achieving your mission.
The method or who you choose to carry out prospect research depends on what you think suits you best. A combination may yield better results, depending on your fundraising needs and available resources. It is important to note that the money you raise is worth more than the cost of prospect research, so invest your time and resources wisely.