How much time should you be devoting to prospect research for a single prospect? I am frequently asked this question by researchers who have been given a list of urgent “Top Prospects” that is 200+ people long. Where do you start and how deep should you go in researching each prospect?
It is best to start by identifying a prospect’s place within a traditional moves management pipeline. Those prospects that are in the “solicitation” phase should be getting a gift proposal or solicitation visit soon from a major gifts officer. The major gifts officer needs to be armed with the most up-to-date research on the prospect. These should be your first priority and should be the most detailed research profiles you produce.
Second priority are the “cultivation” phase prospects. They have been qualified as good prospects and have expressed interest. A major gifts officer has them on a track for eventual solicitation and is cultivating them now for the ask. Giving the major gifts officer good information is important to help facilitate the conversation and eventual determination of specific interest. You can refine this information when the prospect passes into the “solicitation” phase, as the major gifts officer may have learned vital information that can drive your research, simply by meeting the prospect in person.
Third priority are the “identification” phase prospects. They have been identified as potential prospects and the major gifts office simply needs justification to begin cultivating this prospect. A quick screening of public domain sources and confirmation of assets using middle initial or spouse name should suffice for this level of inquiry.
Often I find that researchers go down the internet “rabbit hole” for identification prospects when that information will age by the time the prospect is in the cultivation stage, requiring another screening. Time management based on moves management priority should ensure the appropriate level of research is being done on the appropriate prospects.
*Kate Lindsay Breck is a consultant for Target Analytics. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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