Why Transparency Matters in Prospect Research

Transparency is Key

As we wrap up the end of a decade, it is fascinating to look back on how the industry has changed and evolved. Using fundraising intelligence to help raise more major gifts, faster, is a huge and upward trend that is definitely not going away. More and more, we see donors expecting to be asked, and expecting that the person asking has done some homework on them. Because of this expectation, it is so important that you trust the information you have gathered on a major gift prospect, and that transparency is at the forefront of your efforts.


Education and Ethics

Verifying information is crucial to the integrity of your organization, especially when looking at your major gift fundraising strategy. Whether you have a dedicated fundraising team with prospect researchers on hand or if you are a one-person shop; you must be able to verify and trust your data! It’s always a good idea to make sure that your team is educated in privacy rules and regulations about the information you’re tasked to find. When in doubt, chat with someone at a well-respected organization to make sure you understand all the ethical implications. Two great places to go are always APRA and AFP. 


Strategic Digging

A great question in the prospect research world is “why?”.

  • Why does a donor give to you?
  • Why do they give every year?
  • Who are they connected to?

Another great question though is this: why do you want to know?

Each of the questions above lead to even more questions. In the prospect research world, we talk a lot about “going down rabbit holes” – because research can seem like exactly that! Digging and digging. It’s always good to frame your questions with your own “why”. Why do you want to know? How will that piece of information help you build a prospect profile? Answering that question can help keep your own efforts in check. And it can help make sure you’re not heading down a rabbit hole that won’t lead you anywhere. 

And here comes the strategy: always make sure the information you are seeking is necessary. At the end of the day, these are people’s lives and because of that, this part of the job is a little tricky. Now hold on, don’t start feeling bad about research as a profession. Just remember to keep in mind the reasons you are doing the research; to achieve your nonprofit vision and reach your goals! Ultimately, you work at your nonprofit because you believe in their mission. The work you do helps that mission. And that is a truly wonderful thing. 


Trust Your Database

In order to trust your data, you have to trust your database and tools. This is a really important part of the research and fundraising space. No one wants to walk into a meeting with a prospective donor and say the wrong spouse name or leave money on the table. That’s what happens with bad data. Thankfully, with iWave, you can trust the results because of our own commitment to transparency. 

When you research in iWave, you can see the most up-to-date information as well as annual reports to verify the facts you find. This allows you to have confidence in the data you’re seeing. It also enables better collaboration with your team, and better donor management with those prospects you are researching. When you are prepared with the right information, then you can also be prepared with the right gift ask, at the right time. 


Be Transparent on the Outside Too

Transparency is a value. It can flow into other areas of your organization as well. More and more nonprofits are embracing the value of transparency by sharing more about their impact, more about their bottom line, and more about their mission. When organizations are real, it’s easier to see them as people who are passionate about others, not just organizations looking to push a certain agenda. 

In our efforts to be transparent, we would be nothing without our clients. So if we haven’t said it lately, thank you for the work that you do for the world around you. 


Liz headshot About the author: Liz Corney is iWave’s Content Marketing Manager. She has a degree in Journalism, is a fiercely positive team-player and a creative self-starter. She has experience working in software technology, video/mobile games, learning & development, social & traditional media, and communications. Liz is also the co-founder of a local nonprofit organization working to better the lives of homeless women in her community. 






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