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    Prospect Research: Tips for Better Fundraising, Part 1

    Tried-and-true tactics to improve your fundraising.

    Prospect research is a powerful tool used by nonprofit organizations to generate new insights on donors and prospects. Using this information, fundraisers can then identify who is most able and likely to donate to their nonprofit.


    Your nonprofit fundraising team probably spends most of their day seeking and building relationships with donors. They’ll solicit successful donations, but they’ll probably miss out on new opportunities, too. The purpose of prospect research is to help your team work smarter, not harder. If done correctly, it can drastically improve the efficiency of your fundraising!


    If you’re looking to integrate prospect research into your fundraising strategy, we’ve outlined a few tried-and-true tactics in this two-part blog.


    In this part, we will discuss why you should:

    1. Understand prospect research.
    2. Clean up your data before studying it.
    3. Pay attention to corporate giving programs.

    By using these strategies, you’ll be able to uncover new possibilities within your donor base, such as opportunities for major and sustainable gifts.


    1. Understand prospect research.

    Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes—including schools, healthcare organizations, community foundations, and social service-based organizations—can benefit from conducting prospect research to target future prospects.


    Prospect research allows you to effectively identify people within your donor pool, and in the larger community, with the potential to be high-impact donors. By identifying strong prospects, you can develop smarter cultivation and solicitation strategies to target donors with the highest likelihood of contribution.


    For more information, check out Double the Donation’s breakdown of the basics of prospect research and read on for some best practices to get you started.


    2. Clean up your data before studying it.

    Before you even consider beginning the prospect research process, conduct a quick sweep of your database. Old, repetitive data will not only slow you down, but it can also skew your results!

    There are a few steps you should pay attention to when cleaning your database:

    • Formatting a clear and consistent data entry procedure.
    • Eliminating any duplicate information.
    • Making sure you have accurate contact information for each donor.

    Consider dividing your donors into a few categories based on key characteristics, such as recurring donors, first-time donors, and lapsed donors. This gives you a few smaller datasets to process rather than your entire donor base in one fell swoop.


    3. Pay attention to corporate giving programs.

    Corporate giving programs are a type of philanthropy that facilitates a corporation’s giving to nonprofit causes. Most often driven by employee contributions, these programs usually involve corporations matching the contributions of their employees. 


    There are many types of corporate giving programs, such as:

    • Matching gift programs
    • Volunteer grants
    • Fundraising matches
    • Community grants
    • Volunteer support programs
    • Annual grant stipends

    When a donor is eligible for an opportunity like matching gifts from their employer, they should stand out as an ideal prospect for continued stewardship and solicitation. If you know a donor’s employer or can determine that information using matching gift tools, be sure to include it in your prospect research! 


    Understanding prospect research is the first step you can take toward better fundraising. Once you’ve done the research and cleaned up your data, you can start raising even more through corporate giving programs and other matching campaigns!


    Check out the second part for specific tips on implementing this research!



    Written by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.