10 Tips For The Major Gifts Name Game
nonprofit management tips

It’s one of the biggest trends in fundraising: An ever-steepening donor pyramid has led organizations toward pursuing smaller numbers of very wealthy prospects. 

    During her session, “Resources, Tools, and Money-Saving Tips to Uncover Prospects” at Fundraising Day in New York 2017, Poonam Prasad, founder and president of Prasad Consulting & Research, provided tips to effectively conduct major-donor research. They included:

  • Budget. Is there free information available online? Yes. Quick and accurate information often comes with a price, however, so prepare to spend money to make money;
  • Be clear about what you want to know and why. Are you trying to find a connection with a wealthy prospect? Attempting to determine a solicitation amount? Assessing prospects’ interest? Establish clear objectives;
  • Exercise patience. Research can be a time-consuming process, scouring through haystacks for needles. Take time with research and cross-reference important bits of information through multiple sources;
  • Don’t expect to get every bit of information you might want about prospects. Many charities do not release donor reports and contribution amounts publicly and, even then, some donors give anonymously;
  • When working with a professional researcher, share what you know. Anecdotal information can save time and energy. In the case of wealthy women, for instance, knowing the names of male relatives can make it easier to track down important information;
  • Common names, i.e. Joe Smith, can be a researching nightmare as they often take the longest to conduct research on. Be sure to confirm each such entry when you see them in your screening results;
  • Cross your T’s — especially if that is your prospect’s middle initial. Including middle initials can save you and your researcher time and money. Other valuable pieces of information include the names of spouses, telephone numbers, business addresses, and company information;
  • Misspellings can cost you a lot of money. If you are not positive about the spelling of a prospect’s name, check it or tell the researcher that it is just a guess. Many databases tally the number of searches or time spent when negotiating a renewal;
  • Make online your last step. Check in-house sources like databases and donor records first and then follow up online; and,
  • Follow through. Research is only valuable if you do something with it. Don’t sit on research. Make sure that there are board members ready to solicit, cultivation events planned, etc.