I remember when I was a researcher it seemed the primary concern was all about the prospect’s assets. This is obviously a concern and major consideration during the qualification process for major gift prospects. However I think the biographical background of a prospect is equally important. After all, I knew my gift officers were not saying to our prospects, “So I understand your home is assessed at $600,000 but it is really worth $2.5 million – way to go!” Knowing the names of the children or their interests in sailing or golf can be great ways of establishing and building on a relationship with the donor. Without that solid relationship then the likelihood of a gift is significantly decreased. With that in mind, I would like to focus on some resources we all are familiar with and how they can impact the fundraising team.
Political giving is a great insight on not only an indicator of being philanthropic but on who this individual is. I remember based on political giving and articles about a certain prospect that they were on the far right and that the proposed gift officer was on the left spectrum. While maybe politics may not be a major discussion point I was looking at it from a relationship with the organization. I proposed moving the prospect to someone else on the team. It was certainly not based on the ability of that officer but more on what is going to be the best relationship for that donor with our organization. Remember, the prospect belongs to the organization not the gift officer.
Using resources like Marquis Who’s Who or in depth articles on a prospect can be very enlightening in helping provide that 360 degree view. My colleague and I presented at the recent Blackbaud Conference inWashington,DC on a session showing how certain resources not primarily viewed as uncovering wealth can in fact do exactly that. Marquis Who’s Who can help you all determine whether political giving or philanthropic giving to other organizations does indeed belong to your prospect. It can be a real eye opener. Also, I remember seeing the maiden name of a prospect’s mother and quickly determined she was from a wealthy established family. This provided additional insight and possible wealth simply based on the maiden name. So what is typically not seen as asset information can ultimately lead you to uncovering additional wealth. Career history can be a great indicator on who may be helpful in getting you a meeting with the prospect. So for example, if you have a prospect who worked for a company that is associated with one of your trustees then perhaps that trustee can help you secure that meeting sooner rather than later. So my advice is to trust your instincts and read in between the lines – you will be surprised at what you can uncover!
*Michael Quevli is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.