‘Don’t Hide Behind Prospect Research’
Up-close-and-personal research tactics can involve visits and telephone calls; peer screenings; meetings with other donors, volunteers, staff and friends; and contact through churches, clubs, schools, choirs, gyms, etc. The important part is to get out there and make contact with donors.
Fredricks advises major-gifts officers set a deadline for themselves or, if they have one, their prospect researcher to gather information on donors. Allow a maximum of three weeks to find initial research, and then set an appointment to meet the prospect. Don’t put off visiting donors you don’t have research on.
“If for some reason you can’t get that information or the deadline goes past, you go and see the prospect anyway,” Fredricks says. “I think people hide behind prospect research saying, ‘I can’t see the person because I don’t have the information.’”
This piece of advice is No. 1 in Fredricks’ top three prospect-researching tips, which include:
1. Don’t hide behind prospect research. “Just go and see the person you want to see,” she says. “I’ve seen so many people say, ‘I don’t have the research. I’ll wait,” and months go by and you don’t get the appointment.”
2. Just go in and be yourself. Talk about the organization, about its mission, why you’re there and ask prospects questions like, “What do you like about us? What could we be doing better? If and when you would give something, what would you give it towards?”
3. Stay open and listen. “A lot of times we go in there and we talk and talk. Keep your eyes open and listen, and you’ll just glean so much information in the most gentle, easiest, nonthreatening way,” Fredricks says. “It keeps it personal, soft, easy, and you’ll have an ongoing relationship with the person you want to see.”
Laura Fredricks can be reached via www.pace.edu