10 things to look for doing prospect research

When it comes to prospect data, most organizations have developed sophisticated systems to acquire and store data, as well as how to utilize what they have gathered.

With all that sophistication, it is possible to forget some of the basics of where to look for helpful leads.

Maria Semple, founder and chief executive officer of The Prospect Finder LLC, offers several ideas about sources for researching donor prospects. Some of them are very basic, but others might not be so readily apparent. Semple’s suggestions:

  • Assets including personal property. Determine the value of a prospect’s primary and secondary residences by checking real estate sites.
  • Investments. Corporate insiders must report their trading to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Business affiliation. Private companies are not required to report accurate information, but information is compiled and sources such as Dun & Bradstreet compile it.
  • Philanthropic interests. Remember, many nonprofits new have their annual reports available online.
  • Nonprofit and corporate boards. Knowing where prospects volunteer is helpful in knowing where their interests lie.
  • Yacht or aircraft ownership. The U.S. Coast Guard keeps yacht information, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has information on planes.
  • Relevant news stories. These are helpful to see how a prospect is networked in the community.
  • Family information. Biographical sources will be needed, but often a nonprofit’s board will have information.
  • Foundation connections. There are several sources for this helpful information.
  • Past giving history. Combining this information with the previous can help in formulating a cultivation strategy.