Prospect research is a great way for nonprofits to learn more about their existing and potential donors. When conducting a prospect screening, organizations can learn basic information like a donor’s address and marital status as well as more complex data like past giving histories and current business affiliations.

Having this information at your fingertips can be a great asset when trying to raise more money for your nonprofit from current donors.

Here are three ways prospect research can help your organization raise more money from existing donors.

For more information about prospect research in general, check out DonorSearch’s Ultimate Guide.

Donor Research1. Identify employer information to determine matching gift eligibility.

Some of your donors’ employers might be willing to match their employees’ donations. With prospect research, you can find out which donors work for companies that offer matching gift programs and promote those programs to the right donors.

Matching gifts, when used in conjunction with prospect research, can be a great way to raise more money for your nonprofit.

When you identify which of your donors (or which of your donors’ spouses) works for or used to work for a company that has a matching gift program for employees, spouses of employees, or retirees, you can market matching gift programs accordingly.

2. Identify planned giving prospects.

Planned giving donations are ones that are prepared in the present and are set up to be made in the future through a trust or a will. Prospect research can help you identify which of your current donors could potentially donate to your organization through planned giving.

When looking for planned giving prospects, you will want to look for a few key identifiers:

  • Frequent donations: Has a donor repeatedly given to your organization in the past? If so, how often and how much?
  • Commitment to your cause: Has the donor volunteered with your organization and expressed a level of conviction to your cause?
  • Positively impacted by your organization: Has a donor been the recipient of any of your nonprofit’s services?

The answers to these questions can help you identify who might have the potential to become a planned giver. If a donor has repeatedly given in the past and donations have steadily been getting larger, that donor is a likely candidate.

Additionally, statistical information can help point you in the right direction of a planned giver:

  • Age: Older donors are more likely to set up planned giving donations
  • Whether the donor is married: Married donors are more likely to leave money to their spouses and family members. Single donors are more likely to leave funds to organizations.
  • Whether the donor has children: Similar to married donors, contributors with children tend to leave money to them. Donors who do not have kids are more likely to leave their money to organizations.
  • Property owned by the donor: Property ownership can be a wealth indicator and a good way to tell which of your donors have the available funds to be planned givers.
  • The gender of the donor: On average, female donors are more likely to become planned givers.

By performing a prospect research screening, you can have all of this information readily available. Use it to determine which of your current donors might have the propensity to be a planned giving donor.

3. Be more strategic when planning fundraising events

Have your recent fundraising events been lackluster? Have you left wondering whether you should even spend the money and time to host another one?

Use prospect research in the future to take your fundraising events to the next level! While prospect research can assist you with donor segmentation in general, it can also be useful for when you need to segment donors for a fundraising event.

Prospect research can help you:

  • Determine which donors to invite to certain fundraisers: Some donors might be better suited for a gala while others would thrive at an auction. Look at past giving patterns and business associations to find out where to put donors.
  • Determine which donors to focus on: While it would be ideal to spend the same amount of time with each donor at a fundraising event, you and your staff are limited. Prospect research can help you identify which donors have the potential to become major gift donors, enabling you to spend more time with them and connecting them to your organization.
  • Determine which donors to reach out to after an event: Some of the donors that you meet at a fundraising event will want to develop a deeper relationship with your organization. When you perform a prospect research screening, you are better able to determine which donors have a longer history with your organization and are therefore more likely to continue giving. Extensive giving histories and regular donations signal that a donor cares about your organization. Tap into this dedication and use the past giving information to help your organization make future appeals after an event is over.

Prospect research can help you unearth a goldmine of information about your donors. By identifying who works for companies that offer matching gifts, who has the potential to be a planned giver, and who to invite to fundraising events, your nonprofit can benefit from larger and more frequent contributions from your current donors.

About the Author

Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.