The Prospect Research Budget | npENGAGE

The Prospect Research Budget

By on Nov 22, 2010

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Just thinking about this brings back memories of trying to figure out how am I going to do all that I need to do to be productive?  Traditionally the prospect research budget depending on your department has been very low.  So not only to you have to be resourceful in providing details on your prospects but you need to be resourceful with your budget or the lack thereof.  There are multiple factors to be considered before beginning the process.

  1. How many people are included in the budget?  – This in my mind is where you need to start.  If it is unrealistic for the amount of staff then communicate that right up front.   Providing the total expense per person may open the purse strings.
  2. Provide revised goals in advance.  – Generally you can get a feeling of what may be happening so develop 2-3 scenarios in preparation.  If the proposed budget is clearly minuscule based on the size of the staff, then your first step is to communicate to the “powers that be”.  Inform them of the revised goals and the timeline it will take.   So for example instead of completing 20 in-depth profiles in a month we will only be completing 10 due to the reduction in resources based on the budget. 
  3. Make the case for professional development.  – Prospect research, prospect management or any services under the advancement services area is always changing.  Our field has changed the most as far as technology, processes, and resources than any other area in development.  It is vital that we continue to build on our skills in order to make the fundraising process more strategic.  Provide a ROI of what you have obtained from professional development and how it has saved your institution not only money but time – after all time is money! 

Below is a sample of how you might want to divide out a budget of $10,000

Sample Annual Budget
Description Est. Budget
Electronic Resources $4,500
Periodicals, Books, Newspapers $500
Dues and Memberships $500
Training / Professional Development $3,000
Travel $500
General Office (Supplies, Phone, Software, Postage) $1,000
   TOTAL $10,000

This is very general but gives you an idea of how you might want to weight each of the areas. 

Another idea may be that other areas within the department are dependent on what we provide them so perhaps part of your budget can be a part of their budget.   Pick out one item such as screening.  You can breakout the cost of your annual screening budget and divide it among major gifts, planned giving, events, annual fund and any other areas.   Determine how much of your screening budget goes to each of these areas and break it out accordingly.  So 40% of the cost goes to major gifts; 20% goes to planned giving; 10% goes to events; 15% goes to annual fund and so on.   Choose an item that you don’t want to live without but you also know your colleagues value that resource as well.

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Comments (1)

  • Beth says:

    Nice post. I agree that #1 is very important. Often, people don't realize how the pricing structures work for research tools. I would add that it can be useful to start by looking closely at your organization's annual fundraising goals, so that you can compare each of your resources against the goals as you build your budget. On one hand, this strategy can help you decide the best things to take off the table, if your budget must be cut. On the other hand, it can also help you make the case for bigger-ticket items that would be very useful in helping the fundraising goals.

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