By Elisa Shoenberger, Senior Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University Chicago
Happy Valentine’s Day from APRA-IL!
This is the perfect season to introduce you all to our new blog series that we are calling “Dear Analyst”. This series of blogs is to pay homage to our secular sister “Dear Abby” but also will be an advocate, therapist, and coach to our prospect development members. We want you to write in with your issues and questions regarding prospect development work and we will post our thoughts and suggestions but we also will encourage members to provide their own perspective and ideas. This is meant to generate dialogue and collaboration among our members and also just a fun way to expand the topics and content of our blog, so enjoy!
I’m a shiny new prospect researcher at my organization. I’ve been asked to find new prospects for the organization but I don’t know where to turn. Could you please help me?
Lost in Prospect Land
Finding new prospects is a vital part of the job for prospect research! There’s a lot of different ways of going about it, which makes it great but also scary. Don’t worry. Remember that prospects come from a lot of new places. I’m going to talk about a few places but there are many more.
One place that I like to start is the people who already have given to my organization. Are there people who have given a lot but haven’t been contacted and/or researched? Those might be gems for your organization. It might be a good practice to review all incoming gifts each week to pick up on those larger gifts like $1,000 gifts and up.
With cooperation from your senior staff, your organization could talk to board members about possible prospects that might be inclined towards your organization. It’s great to use these networks. Maybe they’ll offer to introduce us to the prospect.
Another option is to conduct a wealth screening with a company like Blackbaud or Wealth Engine. These can be pricey so it’s a big step but you can find lots of new people this way. These screenings can help you identify people with a lot of assets who may be major gift prospects.
Another place to look might be your own constituency. If your organization is a school, a hospital or a museum, you might have people who have an affinity to your organization already like alumni, grateful patients or members! You can look at business titles of people if you have the information or use news sources to look for your school. Google Alerts can be set up for keywords like “College University” that can help identify alumni who have moved jobs in press releases. Also, you can look at SEC documents too for your alumni.
If you don’t fall under one of those categories, don’t fret! You can buy a mailing list from several organizations that can give you information on people who might be interested in your area of expertise, like the environment or poverty issues.
Are you looking for new foundation or corporate leads? You can use Foundation Center and Foundation Search and look by keywords or even by grants. Both are paid subscriptions but public libraries may have licenses to both of them for your use! Also, it can also try looking at news articles about donations to organizations similar to yours!
These are just a few places to find new prospects. I hope it helps!
Have a question about prospect relationships, research or anything else in the prospect realm? Feel free to email Dear Analyst at email@example.com the subject line Dear Analyst