Identifying potential donors who have the capacity and interest to give can be a challenging and time-consuming process. That’s where donor prospect research comes in. Donor prospect research is the process of gathering information about potential donors to assess their giving capacity and philanthropic interests. This information can help non-profits determine whether or not to pursue a prospective donor and how best to approach them. While donor prospect research can be a valuable tool for non-profits, it can also be costly and time-consuming.
This guide aims to provide non-profits with strategies for conducting donor prospect research on a budget, using free resources like Google and LinkedIn to help identify potential donors and maximize fundraising efforts.
1. Start with a list of potential donors
For non-profit organizations, the process of fundraising is crucial to sustaining operations and achieving their mission. One of the most important steps in fundraising is to start with a list of potential donors. The list can come from various sources, such as the organization’s database, public records, or online directories. The list will help the organization identify potential donors and prioritize their outreach efforts. In this article, we will discuss different methods for creating a list of potential donors and the importance of the list for successful fundraising.
Utilize Your Organization’s Database
One of the easiest and most effective ways to start your list of potential donors is to use your organization’s database. Most non-profits keep a record of past and current donors, including their contact information and giving history. This data can be used to create a list of potential donors by segmenting the donors based on giving levels, frequency of giving, and other criteria. The segmentation allows the organization to prioritize its outreach efforts and focus on donors who have a higher propensity to give.
Additionally, organizations can leverage their existing donor network to expand their list of potential donors. For example, board members, volunteers, and staff can provide referrals for new donors based on their personal networks. Referral-based outreach is often more effective than cold calling or mass mailing because it comes with a warm introduction from a trusted source.
Utilize Public Records
Public records are another valuable source for creating a list of potential donors. Property tax assessor records, voter registration lists, and business directories are just a few examples of public records that can be used to identify potential donors. Public records provide valuable demographic data, including income, age, and occupation, which can be used to segment potential donors based on their capacity and propensity to give.
In addition, non-profits can leverage social media and online directories to identify potential donors. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter allow users to search for individuals based on their job title, location, and other demographic data. This information can be used to create a targeted list of potential donors based on their interests and capacity to give.
Research Local Businesses and Wealthy Individuals
Another way to create a list of potential donors is to research local businesses and wealthy individuals in your area. This can be done by reviewing local newspapers, business journals, and other publications to identify companies and individuals who have a history of philanthropic giving. Additionally, non-profits can partner with local community foundations, which often maintain a list of wealthy individuals who are interested in philanthropic giving.
It’s important to note that while researching local businesses and wealthy individuals can be effective, non-profits should be careful not to assume that every wealthy individual is a potential donor. Philanthropic giving is a personal decision, and non-profits should avoid making assumptions based solely on a person’s income or job title.
The Importance of a List of Potential Donors
Creating a list of potential donors is a critical step in successful fundraising. The list allows the organization to prioritize its outreach efforts and focus on donors who have a higher propensity to give. Additionally, a list of potential donors provides valuable data that can be used to develop targeted fundraising strategies.
For example, knowing a donor’s giving history can help an organization identify the best time of year to make an ask. Similarly, knowing a donor’s interests and values can help an organization craft a message that resonates with the donor and leads to successful fundraising efforts.
A list of potential donors also helps non-profits avoid wasting time and resources on ineffective outreach strategies. For example, cold calling or mass mailing to a generic list of potential donors is often less effective than targeted outreach to donors who have a history of philanthropic giving or a personal connection to the organization.
Creating a list of potential donors is a critical step in successful fundraising for non-profit organizations. The list helps non-profits identify potential donors, prioritize their outreach efforts, and develop targeted fundraising strategies that lead to successful fundraising efforts. While there are various methods for creating a list of potential donors, utilizing an organization’s database and public records are two of the most effective and affordable ways to do so. By leveraging these resources, non-profits can identify potential donors and their interests, demographics, and giving history.
2. Use Google to find contact information and basic background information
Google is an essential tool for conducting donor prospect research. The search engine provides a wealth of information that can be used to identify potential major donors and gather basic background information about them. In this article, we’ll explore how non-profits can use Google to find contact information and basic background information on potential major donors.
Start with a Simple Google Search
The easiest and most effective way to use Google for donor prospect research is to start with a simple Google search. Begin by typing in the name of your prospective donor into the search bar and see what comes up. This will give you a general idea of what the person does, where they work, and any public information about their philanthropic giving.
In addition, Google can help you find the person’s contact information, such as their email address or phone number. This information can be invaluable for reaching out to potential donors and starting a conversation about philanthropic giving.
Utilize Google Images
Google Images is a valuable resource for identifying potential major donors and gathering basic background information about them. For example, a picture of the person may provide information about their occupation, interests, or even their philanthropic giving. Additionally, Google Images can provide a better understanding of the person’s overall online presence and how they present themselves to the public.
To use Google Images, simply type in the name of your prospective donor into the search bar and select the Images tab. This will show you all the images of the person that are available online.
3. Look for news articles that mention the prospective donor
When conducting major donor research, it’s important to gather as much information as possible about the prospective donor. One useful source of information is news articles that mention the donor. By examining news coverage of the individual, you can gain valuable insights into their interests, activities, and areas of expertise. This information can be invaluable in building a relationship with the donor and making a successful fundraising pitch. Here are some tips for finding news articles about prospective donors.
Start with a simple Google News search.
One of the easiest ways nonprofit fundraising experts research a prospect is to find news articles about a prospective donor by conducting a simple Google search. Enter the person’s name and any relevant keywords, such as the name of their company or the industry they work in. You can also use Google’s News tab to filter results to only show news articles. This will give you a broad overview of any recent news about the donor, as well as any other information that might be relevant to your research.
Check industry publications.
If the prospective donor works in a specific industry, they may have been featured in industry publications. These publications often cover news and trends related to the industry and may also feature profiles of prominent individuals. Check any relevant industry publications to see if the donor has been mentioned. This can give you valuable insights into their areas of expertise and interests.
Look for local news coverage.
If the donor is based in a specific geographic area, they may have been covered in local news outlets. Local news coverage can be particularly useful if the donor is involved in philanthropic or community activities in the area. Check local newspapers, television stations, and online news outlets for any coverage of the donor.
Use a media monitoring service.
Media monitoring services, such as Meltwater or Cision, can be a valuable tool for tracking news coverage of a prospective donor. These services use algorithms to scan news outlets for mentions of specific keywords or individuals. You can set up alerts for the donor’s name, company, or other relevant keywords, and receive notifications whenever they are mentioned in the news.
Look for press releases.
If the prospective donor is involved in a specific project or initiative, there may be press releases about it. Check the donor’s company website, as well as any relevant industry associations or nonprofit organizations they are involved with, for press releases. These can give you insights into the donor’s current activities and interests, which can be useful in building a relationship with them.
In conclusion, news articles can be a valuable source of information when conducting major donor research. By examining news coverage of a prospective donor, you can gain valuable insights into their interests, activities, and areas of expertise. This information can be used to build a relationship with the donor and make a successful fundraising pitch. Use the tips above to find news articles about prospective donors, and incorporate the insights you gain into your donor research and fundraising efforts.
4. Use LinkedIn to find out more about the person’s work history and connections
For nonprofit organizations looking to conduct research on prospective donors, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool. With over 740 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform. By exploring a person’s profile, you can gain insight into their career, education, and professional interests.
One of the key features of LinkedIn is the ability to view a person’s work history. This can be particularly useful for nonprofits looking to identify potential donors who have a history of supporting causes similar to their own. By reviewing a person’s work experience, you can gain insight into the industries and types of organizations they have worked for in the past, which may provide clues as to what causes they are likely to support. For example, if someone has worked in the environmental sector for their entire career, they may be more likely to support environmental causes.
LinkedIn also allows you to see if a person has any current job listings or if they have worked for any notable organizations in the past. If they have, this can provide insight into their level of influence and the types of organizations they are likely to support. If a person has worked for a well-known company, it may indicate that they have a higher income and may be able to make larger donations.
Another useful feature of LinkedIn is the ability to see a person’s connections. By reviewing a person’s network, you can identify mutual connections that you may be able to leverage to facilitate an introduction. For example, if you are looking to connect with a potential donor who is also connected to one of your board members, you may be able to ask your board member to introduce you.
It’s also important to pay attention to the quality of a person’s connections. If they are connected to a lot of people who work in the nonprofit sector, it may indicate that they are more likely to be interested in philanthropic causes. On the other hand, if they are mostly connected to people in the corporate world, they may be less likely to be interested in supporting nonprofit organizations.
LinkedIn can also provide insights into a person’s interests and activities outside of work. For example, if a person is a member of any LinkedIn groups related to philanthropy or nonprofit organizations, it may indicate that they have a strong interest in supporting these causes. Additionally, if they have posted any articles or updates related to philanthropy or nonprofit organizations, it may indicate that they are actively engaged in these issues.
It’s important to keep in mind that LinkedIn is a public platform, and not all information may be accurate or up-to-date. Some people may not keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date, so it’s always a good idea to cross-reference the information you find on LinkedIn with other sources. Additionally, some people may not have a LinkedIn profile at all, so it’s important to not rely solely on LinkedIn for donor research.
When using LinkedIn for donor research, it’s important to be respectful and not overly intrusive. While it’s perfectly acceptable to view a person’s public LinkedIn profile, it’s not appropriate to send unsolicited messages or connection requests. If you do decide to reach out to a potential donor, make sure to be clear about your intentions and respect their time and privacy.
LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for nonprofit organizations looking to conduct research on prospective donors. By exploring a person’s profile, you can gain insight into their career, education, and professional interests, as well as identify potential connections that may be able to facilitate an introduction. While it’s important to not rely solely on LinkedIn for donor research, it can be a useful starting point for identifying potential donors who may be interested in supporting your cause.
5. Search for the person’s name on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
When conducting research on a prospective donor, it’s important to cast a wide net and gather as much information as possible. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be incredibly helpful tools for this purpose. Here are some tips on how to effectively use social media to research a prospective donor:
- Search for their name: The first step is to search for the person’s name on each social media platform. You may be surprised at how much information is available, even if the person has privacy settings in place. On Facebook, for example, you may be able to view the person’s profile picture, cover photo, and basic information like where they went to school or where they work. On Twitter, you may be able to see their tweets and who they follow. On Instagram, you may be able to see their posts and followers.
- Look for clues about their interests and hobbies: Once you’ve found the person’s social media profiles, start looking for clues about their interests and hobbies. This information can be invaluable when it comes time to tailor your ask. For example, if you see that the person frequently posts about hiking, you could mention how your organization promotes outdoor recreation and environmental conservation.
- Check their engagement with charitable causes: Social media can also give you insight into the causes and charities that are important to the person. Look for posts or tweets about charitable events, donations, or volunteer work. If you see that the person has supported similar causes in the past, you can use that information to help make your case.
- Be respectful and avoid invasive tactics: While social media can be a valuable tool for donor research, it’s important to be respectful and avoid invasive tactics. Don’t try to friend or follow the person on social media, as this can come across as creepy or intrusive. Stick to publicly available information and avoid digging too deep into their personal life.
- Use social media to build a relationship: Social media can also be a useful tool for building a relationship with a prospective donor. If you notice that the person frequently engages with your organization’s social media posts, you could reach out and thank them for their support. This can help establish a connection and make it more likely that the person will be receptive to future requests for support.
In summary, social media can be a powerful tool for donor research. By searching for a prospective donor’s name on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can learn more about their interests and hobbies, engagement with charitable causes, and build a relationship with them. Just remember to be respectful and avoid invasive tactics, and use the information you gather to tailor your ask and increase the likelihood of a successful donation.
Donor prospect research is a crucial aspect of successful fundraising for non-profit organizations. While the process can be challenging and resource-intensive, there are ways to conduct donor prospect research on a budget. By utilizing free resources like Google and LinkedIn, non-profits can gather valuable information about potential donors to identify those with the capacity and interest to give. By understanding the donor’s philanthropic interests and capacity, non-profits can develop a targeted approach that resonates with the donor and leads to successful fundraising efforts. Overall, with careful planning, research, and execution, non-profits can identify and engage with donors who can make a significant impact on their cause.