Financial Management

Fundraising software makes donor prospect research easy

Donor management software is the single-most handy tool for learning more about major donor prospects. Nonprofits know the importance of gathering information about potential large-capacity donors before approaching them with a request for funds.

Thorough research tends to consume a lot of time, which is a scarce resource for most nonprofits, noted Nonprofit Hub. Maximizing fundraising efforts means taking an efficient approach to time management, as saving time always means saving money.

The right research tools can help nonprofits secure major donor prospects.

Start with the familiar
Contact-management and donor-profile tools, such as StudioCRM, enable well-strategized research that allows a charitable organization to find strong prospects without exhausting limited resources. Nonprofit fundraisers should always begin with what they know: Existing donors are loyal supporters. Prospect researchers can look to their organization’s own databases to highlight supporters who have made consistent donations, such as those who give to annual funds. Regular contributors of modest gifts have the potential to become major donors. Since they’ve already established sincere interest in an organization’s mission, they’re likely to welcome fundraiser contact.

Enlist help
Researching potential donors who are brand new to an organization becomes a little trickier. There a several ways to manage the process without losing time, and donor software‘s analytics and planning tools will help a researcher manage all collected information.

So, with fundraising management applications at the ready, where should a nonprofit begin the process of mining brand new donor prospects?

“There are several ways to manage the process without losing time.”

Nonprofits might consider whether it’s affordable to outsource the hunt for information. The time saved in hiring research consultants can also translate to money saved. Consultants usually have experience as former prospect researchers – they’ll not only find the best prospects, they’ll train a nonprofit staff to become better prospect researchers, equipped with efficient strategies that effectively support long-term donor engagement.

Navigating the DIY search
For nonprofits who can’t hire a research consultant – or for those who are ready to stand on their own after consulting with an expert – the DIY process is simple and straightforward, given a little preparation.

It helps to know how to conduct a Boolean search, said Fundraising IP. It’s likely that the easiest place to begin research will be the most familiar: Google. Most know that typing generic phrases into the Google search bar often results in a neverending rabbit hole of time-wasting. Boolean operators provide a more direct approach to key words, Google can be a great way to look for everything from a potential donor’s philanthropic history to corporate affiliations.

Mining Social Media
Organizations and businesses create public profile pages because they want to invite an audience to read about their community engagement, affiliations and interests. Checking out sites like Facebook is a great start in getting to a know a donor prospect. A company’s marketing platform reveals what its executives most cares about, and whether it shows promise as a good match for a charitable mission. This helps rule out any prospects that aren’t a fit before investing more research time than necessary.

A cursory sift through social media saves a lot of time but it shouldn’t be the only source of research for potential donors who seem like a good match. It’s also not a good vehicle for professional communication. Instead of contacting a likely donor through Facebook, a nonprofit should check for a LinkedIn page, which will offer a direct channel of communication with potential donors.

Other online information sources
When looking for corporate donor prospects, researchers can look to Bloomberg’s billionaire index for a list of the highest-capacity donors. The website provides information on a range of corporate executives. Typing these names into social media and news search engines will uncover more useful knowledge about individual interests and values, affiliations and wealth. This information illuminates just how much money a fundraiser should ask a prospect to give.

“Look to organizations with similar ideologies.”

In addition, a lot of nonprofits publish annual reports and lists of donors online. In the search for prospective major donors, researchers can look to organizations with similar ideologies. Regularly reading the news might seem like an old-fashioned trick, but it’s guaranteed to turn up philanthropist profiles from time to time.

Thinking outside the box
Major gifts don’t just come in the form of money; they can also come in the form of assets, according to The NonProfit Times. Is the potential supporter in a position to invest in the future of a charitable organization? Look for investment profiles to answer that question.

Perhaps a prospective donor owns aircraft or other means of transportation. This information can often be gleaned from social media pages, which usually display personal hobbies. So, when looking through different online sources, researchers should keep an eye out for anything and everything that could potentially help an organization’s cause.

Keeping it together
A crucial reminder from Maria Semple, writing for The Nonprofit Times: protect the confidentiality of donor records. Development staff and fundraising committees should only share sensitive donor information on an as-needed basis. Donor management software efficiently stores key pieces of information in a localized, secure place.

Once the task of research is finished, nonprofits are armed with all the necessary knowledge for approaching high-capacity prospects. A nonprofit representative can now use the donor database as a study guide before meeting with the donor face-to-face. Conversational strategy is important, said Fundraising Success Magazine’s Gail Perry, and boring a potential supporter is the fastest way to close the door on an avenue of funding. The conversation stands a better chance of success with precise research and software management tools.