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April 17, 2019
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May 1, 2019

Three Prospect Research Myths Debunked

Here at Front Range Source, we know first-hand the value of prospect research. We also know that sometimes nonprofits are wary of it.

This week, I wanted to share some of the top three myths I hear about prospect research, and give you an insider look at what goes on behind the curtain.

MYTH: I know my donors. I don’t need prospect research.

There are two camps when it comes to knowing your donors: I know everything or I know nothing. No matter how well you know your donors, I’ve never created a profile or run a database scan that didn’t come back with major surprises.

Donors that have been giving to your organization at a low- or mid-level range, might be major (and I mean MAJOR) donors for another organization with similar programs to yours. A donor may intimate what they’ll give to your next campaign, but research indicates they could give significantly more and uncover philanthropic motivations.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what we don’t know, until we take a chance on prospect research.

MYTH: Prospect research infringes on donor privacy.

Conducting research on a prospect or a donor can sound intrusive – I understand that. However, the only information a researcher looks for is information that is pertinent to fundraising and a matter of public record. In fact, the information you receive from a donor profile will only help to strengthen the relationship between the donor and the organization. The goal is to identify a prospect’s philanthropic interest or ties, and align them with the appropriate project or program.

Additionally, every researcher worth their salt will adhere to a Code of Ethics, whether it is APRA’s (American Prospect Research Association) Statement of Ethics, or their own in-house parameters. All Codes of Ethics should include a privacy policy clause that specifically states that any information uncovered through research will be used solely for the purposes of fundraising by the appropriate parties.

MYTH: Prospect research is only for major campaigns.

This is one of my favorite myths to bust! Prospect research is an invaluable resource anytime. While in-depth profiles are a great fit for campaigns or major asks, it’s not necessary to conduct this type of research on every donor in your database.

Running a quick search to identify ages or age ranges might help you tailor your communications (or delivery methods), or identify who to invite to the next event. Another great nugget of research to review is giving history to other organizations. How do your donor’s gifts to you compare to what they’re giving elsewhere? Could they be moved to a higher-level of giving with some extra stewardship?

Those are the top three myths I hear on a regular basis, but what other questions do you have about prospect research? Drop a question below!

Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay.

 

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