Who Are Your Access People?
Here are some additional research techniques for identifying access people:
- With their permission, research your own board members. It may be surprising, but you may learn of connections to foundations, boards and other organizations that you did not know about. Research has indicated that board members are often more ready to tap their networks for prospects and access people once you cue them with this information.
- Review access opportunities — these are the unique services and products that have well-served potential access people in your universe and may inspire their assistance.
- Recent developments in online data gathering and visual tools have brought us free Internet tools for mapping networks. Input a name, and the tool delivers a graphic network (think of spider webs) depicting the person’s connections to other people, companies and foundations. Two good examples are muckety.com and mapper.nndb.com.
- Create a “list of lists.” Before the Internet, the best (and only well-known) lists were provided in the Forbes 400 annual magazine issue. With the Internet, hundreds of lists are now available that can directly aid your research on access people, e.g., The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s lists of major gifts and numerous “top 100” lists of professionals such as investors, executives, entrepreneurs, etc. When your prospect appears on a list, follow the dictum — birds of a feather flock together — and review the list for people you know who can serve as access people.
If your database contains thousands of viable prospects, then it is paramount that your fundraisers share their resources and counsel as they will provide essential context for navigating the overwhelming data on the Internet. Also, quite simply, fundraisers should not be spending too much of their time behind a desk.
If you are a researcher, then it is essential that you understand your organization beyond the research data you collect. Ask your fundraisers how they prioritize their portfolios of prospects. This helps you define your priorities to produce actionable research.