Early Funnel Prospect Research (or How to Find New Donors)
Sometimes prospect research is about looking at list of names and determining propensity, affinity and capacity. This is typically how things work at larger organizations. A near endless stream of names pouring in due to brand recognition, marketing campaigns, event attendee lists, and alumni and patient databases, means that some prospect researchers are never without a name to work on.
For prospect researchers without that level of inbound traffic, early funnel research is an essential part of the prospect research process. After all, you can’t qualify or disqualify prospects you don’t have yet.
In this guide, we will discuss early funnel prospect research and show you how to find new names you can convert into donors.
Searching donation records is the best place to find early funnel prospects. Full stop. Donation records tell you three extremely valuable things:
- The causes and organizations the prospect gives to
- The dollar ranges the prospect gives in
- The geographic location the prospect gives in
A prospect is well on the way be being qualified if he or she is:
- Giving to organizations with missions similar to yours
- Giving in dollar ranges that meet your objectives
- Giving in the geographic area your organization positively impacts
Proximity based prospect research mainly relies on a single assumption: If my prospect lives in the area my organization positively impacts, he or she is more likely to make a gift than some who does not live in the area my organization positively impacts.
Follow the link for more on proximity based prospect research.
Reviewing biographies (especially if they are electronic and searchable) is a fantastic place to find early funnel prospects for two reasons. One, people who have biographies tend to be wealthy, influential, or both. This is especially true of biographies found in collections such as Canadian Who’s Who. Two, a biography can give you useful information that will help you qualify or disqualify the prospect.
The following questions are instructive when searching and reading biographies:
- Was the person born in the city or town my organization is active in?
- Does my organization have a strong group of supporters that attended that same school as the person? Is there anything about this person’s education history that connects him or her to my organization?
- Does this person currently live in the same city my organization is active in?
- Is there anything about this person’s career highlights that suggest a possible connection with my organization? Keep an eye out for phrases that indicate the person championed certain causes at his or her organization. If your mission ties into those causes you could be well on your way to finding a new prospect.
- Is there anything about this person’s personal life that suggests a possible connection with my organization? Phrases such as “lifelong interest in the arts” and “strong commitment to at risk youth” are what you want to look for here.
Mining your organization’s connections is an extremely effective way to find early funnel prospect. Almost all boards have a fundraising mandate, even if it isn’t explicit. Talk to your board members. Ask them about their personal and professional networks. Relationship mapping is a fantastic way to both mine and visualize those connections. Follow the links below for more on relationship mapping: