What is the point of donor prospecting? Most often we do it because we think that with donor research an incredibly wealthy donor is going to appear out of thin air. Then we are going to asking him for a big gift based on what we learned about him and it’s going to change the life of our non-profit. But, that’s not really how it works.
I’ve often found that non-profits rarely have big gifts that fall out of the sky, most of the time they come after years of cultivation. Why would it be any different after donor prospecting? I think we need to changing our mind on donor prospecting and get back to a focus on the donor. Fundraising is about relationship and unless we start there donor prospecting does not help. We need to spend time listening to what our donors are saying about themselves & their interests. If you do that then donor prospecting helps you fill in the gaps.
Prospect Research can be a really useful tool for finding information about existing donors and can bring an organization to the next level. It is important that we have the right mindset. Prospect Research is not the answer for your organization—good fundraising is. Donor research can help and a great way to start is by asking your donors questions. I will be writing an article in a couple weeks about what kinds of questions and conversations will help you in your donor research. If you want more information on how to research your donors check out a previous article I wrote, “Prospecting New and Existing Donors.”