Archives for July 2015

3 Ways Prospect Research Can Help You Market to Your Donor Population


Guest Post by Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President at DonorSearch


Donors are savvy. They know when they are being ‘handled’ and when they are being connected with.

It doesn’t take much, but donors want to feel appreciated and seen by the organizations they give to.

With the ongoing challenges of donor acquisition and retention, nonprofits should use every tool at their disposal to take their marketing strategies to the next level.

Prospect research should be a part of every nonprofit’s tool belt.

A well-executed prospect screening can unveil a treasure trove of information about both prospects and donors. With those details revealed, fundraisers can cater their marketing efforts to the donors in an accurate and highly personalized manner.

Once a development office knows the potential of specific donors, that team can adjust its marketing strategy to best solicit maximum funding from those key supporters.

Donor-centric marketing should be a top focus of fundraising organizations, and prospect research can help fundraisers zero in on what makes their donors tick.

To help get your prospect research-enabled marketing going, here’s a list of 3 ways that screening can aid in the marketing process.


#1 Uncovering Major Gift Prospects Hiding in Plain Sight


We often think of prospect research in terms of what it can reveal about potential donors, but it can also provide a wealth of game changing data on your current donor population.

With a prospect screening, you can learn who of your annual fund donors has the potential to be a major gift donor. Annual fund donors are already loyal to your cause, so making the switch to a major gift is easier than starting from scratch.

For example, a donor who has given numerous $150 contributions to your cause over five years could be revealed as someone who gave an $8,000 gift to another organization.

The opportunity is there, exposed by prospect research, and ready to be acquired through marketing.

Once you know who your existing major gifts prospects are, your development staff can put in the extra effort help encourage the transition to major gift donor.

This more targeted marketing can be anything from highly personalized acknowledgements to additional check-in phone calls from staff to meeting for a meal out.

The good news is that with prospect research information, your staff can spend additional time marketing to potential high quality donors and know their time is being well spent.


#2 Identifying Planned or Deferred Giving Prospects


In a similar vein to number 1 on our list, prospect research can identify who among your donor population is a likely candidate for planned or deferred giving.

Most organizations don’t know where to begin when looking for planned or deferred giving prospects, even though 78% of planned giving donors gave 15 or more gifts to the nonprofits named in their wills during their lifetimes.

Given that statistic, there clearly are predictive behaviors of planned givers, and prospect research will help your nonprofit make those predictions.

Once your staff has a group to focus on, they can begin the rather unique marketing courtship of planned donations.


#3 Singling Out High Quality Prospects Before or After Events


Events are can be major sources of funds for nonprofits. Whether it’s a gala or a golf tournament, an event can render a huge financial boost.

With such a high value event, marketing before and afterwards needs to be catered towards soliciting big donations.

In order to secure big donations, your organization is going to need to have:

  • a great guest list
  • superior donor service during the event
  • an excellent method of post-event follow up

Prospect research during the planning of, for example, a gala, can help define the guest list.

If the guest list is already defined, you can screen that to isolate who your staff needs to spend invaluable face-to-face time with during the event.

The experience during the event is also a great promotional opportunity for your cause in general, and any specific campaigns you’re running.

Let’s consider a push for matching gifts, for instance. At a gala you hopefully have a large subsection of your high quality donors in attendance. Sometime during the gala, either by an announcer or via pamphlets on tables, bring up the topic of matching gifts and how easy it is for donors to increase their donations with help from their companies.

Starting a dialogue about matching gifts deliberately in the presence of pre-screened high quality donors could yield massive donations for your organization.

Once the gala is finished, the attendees can be screened to determine how best to approach acknowledgement and continued engagement.

The goal with all three of these prospect research benefits is to better enhance the marketing relationship between donor and fundraiser.

Development staff are usually stretched very thin. Money is tight and always in demand. Employees need to be able to make the most of their efforts. Prospect research is a great way to maximize fundraising efforts.

Prospect research can focus a campaign by prioritizing donation targets.

Customized marketing can only happen when organizations have a specific sense of who is being solicited, what they should be solicited for, and what the organization has the chance to gain.

Prospect research answers those questions.



“Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President at DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing client retention, and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.”

Iris Creative Group Inc. • 451 S. Bethlehem Pike, Suite 310 • Fort Washington, PA 19034 • P: 267.468.7949
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