Challenging Common Prospect Research Myths

There are always myths circulating around the internet, whether they’re about the latest gadget, science discovery, and even prospect research. What are they?

Myth #1: Real Estate Data = Overrated

Is real estate data overrated?  As a researcher, you search for propensity, affinity, and capacity to give. You need clues from public records to determine these ratings.  Sound about right? Well, real estate data offers a wide range of information about an individual that goes beyond property value. Perhaps a property was remortgaged recently.  Or maybe your prospect has multiple “hidden” properties.  These clues offer information about an individual’s capacity to give that only real estate research offers.

“Yes, I know that, but real estate information can’t really offer information beyond capacity…”

Real estate also provides insight on a prospect’s personality. Helen Brown states that real estate is essentially a green flag for future prospecting. Knowing that an individual has a $1.5 million condo in L.A as a secondary residence will lead you to search for their other properties. You might find additional insight about a property’s purchase date and location. Both of these factors provide insight into personality.

Myth #2: Profiles Are Dead

Buried in PaperworkWhether you’re a researcher or fundraiser, you may have a love/hate relationship with the prospect profile. Yes, they can be time consuming to sift through and research.  But a relevant profile can make or break a major gift opportunity. Jennifer Filla suggests having different profile levels depending on the situation.  This means that a researcher doesn’t have to research a full profile for every prospect. There are situations when the fundraiser is only interested in a brief profile to begin the process.  Other times, a more in depth profile may be better suited before a major gift solicitation.

Ask yourself if an individual has a connection to your cause or organization.  If not, set those names aside.  Now you can determine what kinds of information you’re looking for from a profile.  This could be different for each prospect. Be specific when asking for profiles and you’ll help ensure that too much time is spent on profiles that will be shelved or lost in a pile on someone’s desk. If profiles include only the relevant data on an individual that is needed at the moment, then they will become more useful for your development team as a whole.

There’s a better way forward

There may be truth to prospect research myths, real estate data might not be a huge asset to your prospecting if you don’t know what information that you can learn from it, and profiles can most definitely be a waste of time if a researcher and fundraiser aren’t collaborating. Every clue that a prospect researcher can offer a fundraiser before meeting with a prospect can increase the likelihood that the individual will give to your organization. Whether the clue is provided by a well constructed and relevant profile or the inclusion of information such as a person’s real estate holdings, prospect researchers have the ability to offer insight into a prospect’s life, which can help the fundraiser secure more major gifts.

Join us on Tuesday, November 4th at 1pm EST when we dive deeper to debunk some of the common prospect researching myths in APRA’s Web Event that we’re partnering with called “Challenging Research Myths and Uncovering More Major Gifts”. If interested in registering for the event please click here or goto

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About the author: Sarah MacLeod is one of iWave’s Client Success Managers.

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