From Our Hearts to Yours | npENGAGE

From Our Hearts to Yours

By on Feb 14, 2012


A few years ago, called the prospect research, “the best-kept-secret” – one of nonprofit’s “hidden heroes.”   Well, I didn’t need a national news source to tell me that!   I first happened upon prospect research as a way to better identify and understand organizational prospects around 1997 or so.  While directing the planned and major gift program at Colorado Public Radio, I spent each Monday morning at the Denver Public Library researching and assembling pertinent information on top prospects and public leaders.  We were in a race with time to expand our top-level donor base and community positioning as we sought to purchase additional radio signals throughout the state.   It didn’t take long before I realized that the job was a big one and that a more seasoned professional would take us the distance.  So I hired a series of two freelance prospect researchers and off we went.  The focused effort paid off – big time!  What was a 3 signal network then has grown to over 25 stations and translators today.  Though I’m long-removed from my staff affiliation with the network, I still take much pride in knowing that the process we established 15 years ago seeded the fruit that grows today.

So it’s Valentine’s Day this week and it seems right to offer heartfelt gratitude to prospect researchers, both past and present.  “Thank you,” for your dedication, your partnership, your tireless toil and open-mind.  “Thank you,” for working hand-in-hand to turn wishful thinking into obtainable reality for so many mission dreams.  If we don’t say it enough, and we haven’t said it recently, please hear us now – “Thank you,” for being an amazing part of the development team.  We couldn’t do it without you!

*Katherine Swank is a consulant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Katherine Swank, JD, senior consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company, helps nonprofits apply statistical analytics and donor research to their fundraising efforts with an emphasis on planned gifts. She has raised nearly $250 million for mission funding during her nonprofit development career. Katherine is a retired affiliate faculty member of Regis University’s master of Global Nonprofit Management degree program, where she taught courses on wealth and philanthropy.  Along with writing for publications like Advancing Philanthropy and Philanthropy Journal, she is also a frequent presenter for industry conferences such as NACGP, AFP, APRA, and bbcon. Having grown up in a tourist destination in Colorado, Katherine has become an avid world traveler and is exploring her way through the 1,000 places to see before you die, albeit slowly.  Connect with her on Twitter @KatherineSwank.

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