Prospect Research and Identification

At FUNDING matters we look at prospect research as the process of collecting helpful information about donors, including:

  • Personal backgrounds
  • Philanthropic histories
  • Wealth markers
  • Charitable motivations

Your organization can benefit through effective prospect research to determine how much prospects can donate and how inclined they are to make gifts to a particular nonprofit. By tapping into different databases, historical records, and other research methods to collect specific, accurate information, such as:

  • Past charitable gifts: Donors who give between $5,000-$10,000 to a nonprofit are five times more likely to donate elsewhere. More importantly, annual donors who already give to you on a regular basis are the most likely to turn into major gift donors.
  • Political donations: Donors who make political donations prove they take action on behalf of the causes they care about. They may be inclined to give to nonprofits, such as yours.
  • Nonprofit involvement: Nonprofit board and foundation members typically understand the importance of supporting organizations financially.
  • Real estate ownership: Donors who own $2+ million in real estate are 17 times more likely than the average person to give to a nonprofit.
  • Employer information: Donors likely have colleagues who make similar salaries and who also engage in philanthropy. If these coworkers give to nonprofits with similar missions, then they may choose to give to you, too.
  • Personal information: Insight into hobbies, marital status, and basic contact information helps to inform your outreach and make it more personal.
  • No matter what your mission or size, all nonprofits can use prospect research to save time and resources while making your fundraising processes vastly more efficient.

Conducting prospect research allows you to identify who is ready to make a major gift to your organization, and when. By tracking donor data, you can build relationships with the right people in a timely manner. Collecting this information allows you to:

  • Inform major gift outreach: Use your data to identify donors who may be ready to make larger gifts, such as those who give to your organization every year.
  • Identify planned/deferred donors: Check giving histories and understand who your consistent, long-term donors are. These loyal supporters are often likelier to make planned gifts.
  • Discover new donors: Learn which organizations your donors already give to. If these nonprofits support a similar cause, these donors may be inclined to give to you too.
  • Gain insight into fundraising opportunities: Obtain comprehensible data on who prospects give to, how often, and how much, so you can formulate better ask strategies and request major gifts from the right prospects.
  • Obtain cleaner donor data: Prospect research is no good if it’s unorganized. Update your donor databases, so that you can plug in your new data and fundraisers can easily find all the information they need.
  • Prospect research is all about getting the data you need to raise more dollars for your cause.