Monday, December 30, 2013

A research favorite: Christina Pulawski's "Tax Assessor Database"

From my favorite brand of automobile to my favorite pair of hiking boots, there are things I keep going back to because they're reliable and familiar.  Research websites come and go, but a site I've been using for years is Christina Pulawski's Tax Assessor Database.  In my current position, I rarely have to search for properties outside my own metropolitan area.  However, every once in awhile, an out-of-town prospect will pop up and I'll need some more information based on the prospect's address.  I used it just today to confirm a spouse's name on a property's ownership record!

Real estate values are one of my "go-to numbers" for determining capacity.  In the absence of other financials such as public company salaries or stock holdings, you can almost always find that someone owns at least one piece of real estate.

Besides the value of a property, assessor websites are also good for determining things like a spouse's name or how the property is held. For example, a property held in trust is usually an indicator of wealth.  Features like in-ground swimming pools and multiple-car garages can also be wealth indicators.  Also, more and more assessor websites are including property photos as well.  If not, Google Maps is a good alternative for aerial views (and sometimes Street View) of properties.

I highly recommend adding Christina's tax assessor website to your list of Bookmarks or Favorites!

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Christina's consulting website, where she offers her services based on her many years' of expertise in Prospect Management and Research.  As someone who has heard her speak on multiple occasions, I can also highly recommend Christina as a speaker to consider for your next research conference!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The best things in life are FREE!

A recent post on PRSPCT-L inquired about free resources and kudos to Jennifer Filla for posting these collections.  I would be remiss if I did not post them here.  This veteran researcher even found some new resources among those listed.  Enjoy!

The five best free prospect research resources

The Helen Brown Group - 11 Great Resources for Finding Biographical Information

Fast Favorite Prospect Research Links

Of course, if you have some FREE favorites you don't see listed here, please feel free to post them in your comments.

Thanks and happy researching!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Prospect Research article in the Summer 2013 issue of Advancing Philanthropy

The Summer 2013 issue of AFP's "Advancing Philanthropy" is out and features a nice article on Prospect Research by Jennifer Filla.  Fortunately, AFP has made this one of the free articles available via their website.  It focuses on something all of us in the profession have dealt with at one time or another - limited resources.

ARTICLE: Prospect Research - Even With Limited Resources

On a related note, this issue also features a good article on the ethical use of social media in fundraising.  It's not available for free, but if this issue of "Advancing Philanthropy" is available to you, it's on page 49.

Hope everyone is having a good summer!  Hard to believe it's half over already.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

APRA - The Benefits of Membership!

I just received an e-mail from APRA suggesting that I refer my research colleagues join this fine organization if you aren't already a member.  Even if you can't attend their outstanding annual conference, the educational opportunities (lots of webinars) and quarterly Connections publication are worth the price of membership alone.  It's $195 in case you're wondering!

APRA Member Benefits

Friday, May 24, 2013

The great resource that is

I often get asked to share a template of the research forms I use, especially for profiles.  A post on the PRSPCT-L list this morning reminded me that there's a great collection of research-related forms available on the website.  I contributed to this collection so long ago that I sometimes forget that it's still available as on online resource.

In case you're wondering where the research profile forms are, there are several available in the links in the box on the lower-right hand corner of this page devoted to all things research!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Memory of Heather Reisz

I was shocked and saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of an admired research colleague, Heather Reisz.  Heather died of natural causes on May 14, 2013, at the age of 42.

I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Heather as a presenter at our APRA MO-KAN Conference in 2011.  As our chapter's Communications Director and a member of the conference committee, I was responsible for contacting Heather to get her bio and handouts.  Her presentation on basic Prospect Research was a highlight of the conference and proved that nothing is ever too basic when it comes to thorough research.  She also participated in our "Prospect Research Family Feud" game and was a hit with all of our conference attendees.  Heather is on the far left in the photo below with her Family Feud "family."

In the short time we spent with Heather, it was easy to see that she was one of those people everyone wanted to be around because her laughter and positive energy were contagious.  At the time, Heather was the Director of Research and Prospect Development at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  When my wife and I told Heather that Boston was one of our favorite cities, she told us to let her know the next time we were in town as she'd love to show us around and give us a tour of the museum.  I had no doubt we could take her up on her promise.  Shortly after this, Heather moved to another one of our other favorite cities to work at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Like Boston, it would have been fun to connect with Heather there.  Sadly, that will never happen now.

The New England Development Research Association (NEDRA) has set up a scholarship in Heather's memory.  This will help provide newcomers to the field ("newbies" as Heather called them) financial support for development research training.  I can't think of a better way to honor her memory!

To use one of Heather's favorite phrases, she was, in a word, "Awesome!"  Heather, you will be missed!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yet another new publication on Prospect Research...

Yet another new publication on Prospect Research this week, and something else to add to my growing reading list for work!

"Prospect Research is a Verb - Fundraising is the Subject" by Meredith Hancks and Cara Rosson.  It's also available in a Kindle version for $9.99.

Not sure about that title, but the content looks promising!

Also, don't forget this other title from the Trenches series, "Getting Started in Prospect Research," written by Meredith Hancks as well.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Research links from AFP Forum

Donor Research in the Digital Age
AFP Forum – March 13, 2013

Address & Phone Resources
WhitePages – search for people, businesses, reverse phone number, or by address and neighbors

Biographical Information
Birthdatabase – searchable by name, age, and zip code.
LinkedIn – provides current employer and title as well as employment history; also lists degrees and educational institutions attended; sometimes lists professional and community affiliations
ZoomInfo – a search engine specifically for finding people; often searches deeper than Google and provides “cached” webpages no longer available online; provides a limited number of links for free

Business Information
Hoovers – basic company snapshots for free; detailed reports are fee-based
Manta – provides free business snapshots based on Dun & Bradstreet reports

Government Resources (local)
Jackson County, MO marriage records – useful for confirming exact birthdates and spouse names
Johnson County, KS District Court records – useful for searching marriage and divorce records
Missouri – searchable database of Circuit Court records in Missouri; limited detail only provides basic information on everything from traffic tickets to estates to divorces

Library Resources (local)
Johnson County Public Library – free library card entitles access to several online databases including local and national newspaper archives, obituaries, genealogical resources, and other databases

Political Contributions
Political MoneyLine – search by donor name, state, zip code, occupation or recipient; links to actual copy of FEC contribution filing with home address, employer and occupation of donor

Public Company Salaries & Holdings
Securities & Exchange Commission – search by public company name; the Proxy Statement (DEF14A) contains salary and inside shareholder information

Real Estate Resources
Google Maps – provides aerial and sometimes “street views” of residences
Jackson County, MO – searchable by name or property address
Johnson County, KS – searchable by property address only; includes photo of residence
Clay County, MO – searchable by name or property address
Platte County, MO – searchable by name or property address – tax assessor database by state. Named for Christina Pulawski, a former prospect researcher at Northwestern University, now a fundraising consultant
Trulia – nationwide real estate database searchable by city, zip code, or property address
Zillow – nationwide real estate database searchable by city, zip code, or property address

Paid Resources
LexisNexis for Development Professionals ($700-$1000 per month for one user) – multi-function toolkit for fundraisers includes address & phone history, birthdates (month & year only), e-mail addresses, family relationships, real estate assets, newspaper archives, and employment links.
Nozasearch ($900 per year for multiple users) – the world’s largest searchable database of charitable contributions; also provides limited foundation searches for free.
WealthEngine ($2,750 per year for up to three users) – multi-function toolkit for fundraisers includes capacity calculator, charitable giving (limited Nozasearch), Dun & Bradstreet, Federal Election Contributions, Foundation Search, Guidestar Directors and Foundations, Hoover’s business information, Marquis Who’s Who, aircraft and large watercraft ownership, and more!  Subscription price includes monthly webinars and best practices white papers.

p.s. And don't forget to Google!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Blackbaud publication: Boosting Your Giving Programs Through Prospect Research

I have the paper version, which I recommend quite often.  However, it's nice to see that Blackbaud has posted an electronic version here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Registration for the APRA International Conference is now open!

Registration for the APRA 26th Annual International Conference, from August 7-10, 2013, in Baltimore, is now open!  This is THE conference for prospect researchers from around the world!

Likewise, if you're in Missouri or Kansas, the annual APRA MO/KAN Conference is some serious bang for the buck.  It features a great speaker lineup this year as well, and is April 11-12, 2013, in St. Louis.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A new handbook on Prospect Research...and a classic!

It's been awhile since we had a good book devoted to Prospect Research, so I can't tell you how excited I am for this book to come out next month!  It's $32 at Amazon!

"Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook."

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't also give a kudos to Cecelia Hogan's now classic handbook, "Prospect Research: A Primer for Growing Nonprofits."