Evaluated your Prospect Profiles Lately? You Should!

Guest Post by Jennifer Filla

Some people like to go shopping. I don’t. But when it comes to prospect research tools, I really enjoy taking time to learn about new products and thinking about how that product might fit into my work and the fundraising field – especially prospect profiles. After all, prospect research is not just for prospect research professionals. Every fundraiser is responsible for doing some research.

Whether you are a gift officer at a huge university or the only paid staff for a small nonprofit, prospect research is in your job description. Okay, sometimes it’s between the lines and not on the lines, but it’s there alright.

Every fundraiser needs information she can turn into actions that lead to gifts. Fundraising is a hungry beast that asks a lot of questions like these:

  • Who are my best donors and prospects?
  • Why do they love my organization?
  • Why do they give?
  • How much could they give?

Prospect research answers those questions and more. It might be a face-to-face conversation with a donor, or it might involve researching in your own database or out in public information. We create profiles of our prospects so we can prioritize, understand and act.

I’m not going to list all the products available and even though I’m guest blogging for iWave I’m not suggesting that iWave PRO is the right tool for you and your organization. I will say that I recently purchased an iWave PRO subscription for my work doing prospect profile research. Why now? What changed?

Aspire Research Group does a lot of profiles, this is true, but we’ve also attracted clients big and small that want brief information – NOW. Maybe top leadership came up with a big idea that needs some real data fast or maybe a consultant to a small nonprofit wants to seize a fundraising opportunity. Whatever the case, a tool that cuts to the chase and still remains flexible is very attractive.

With the additional datasets recently added to iWave PRO and the new flexibility to generate an automated profile without losing the ability to jump in and review the raw data, I have no regrets.

I still do plenty of traditional-style profiles, but the need for quick and easy information, just enough to take action, is growing. I’d like to think it’s because we’re doing a better job of educating the fundraising field about the power of prospect research.

Yet we researchers still take it for granted that everyone knows what we mean when we say “Prospect Profile”. It is a very generic term and is in no way limited to the many-page, hand-typed, narrative report style of not so long ago. There are new ideas, techniques and templates all the time.

In fact, there have even been some who rumor that Prospect Profiles Are DEAD…or at least dying. Could there be some truth to that?

But that is an entirely different conversation. I hope you’ll join us live on March 10, 2015 at 2pm EST, as AJ Pickens from iWave and I will tackle the question interview style with real-life scenarios and live demonstration. Register now for 30-minutes of tips, ideas, and a chance to win the Prospect Research Institute’s Introduction to Prospect Profiles workbook!

Click here to Register

Jennifer Filla has been helping fundraisers with prospect research for more than ten years. She is President of Aspire Research Group LLC, CEO of the Prospect Research Institute and co-author of Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook. She believes that the best learning and working includes creativity and fun.

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