10 Things to Know About Major Donor Research
Every fundraiser out there is searching for that next major gift to help grow and sustain his or her organization. There is a ton of research out there about major donors, which can be invaluable in approaching the most generous donors.
With that in mind, Poonam Prasad, founder and president of Prasad Consulting and Research, shared the "Top Ten Things Every Fundraiser Should Know About Major Donor Research" in her session at Fund Raising Day in New York earlier this month.
- Major donor research is expensive, so be prepared with a budget. There is a correlation between quality, time and money spent in research, Prasad said. You get what you pay for.
- Searching is time-consuming. Unless your prospect is very famous, don't expect instant results. Major donors don't just give money easily. You may have to look through hundreds of documents and prospects to find that "needle in the haystack."
- No researcher can find everything on the Internet. Nothing beats listening to your prospects and cultivating relationships.
- Google and Nexis are just research tools, not magic wands. Search tools must be supplemented with other types of research strategies such as industry knowledge, subscriptions and mining your own data.
- Don't make the research a test for your researcher. Share all the information you have with your researchers. Anecdotal information is invaluable in guiding research and saving time and money, Prasad said.
- A missing letter can cost you money. Make sure you have every name you are searching spelled correctly. It seems obvious, but it's vital.
- Don't ignore middle initials. Middle initials can save you both time and money during major donor research. Spouse's name, addresses, telephone numbers, business addresses, occupation and more all help narrow the search immensely. The more data the better.
- No matter what you hear, a prospect's complete charitable giving history is impossible to find online.
- Going online should be the last step, not the first. You must check other in-house resources before you jump online, Prasad said, not only to save money tub to search more accurately.
- Information is not power. The ability to plan and act on information is, Prasad said. What will you do with the research? Do you have staff or volunteers to whom you can assign new prospects? Do you have cultivation events planned? Are you looking for new board members? You must plan the process.