Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Capacity Ratings

Thanks to Jen Filla for posting links to a couple of new articles about Capacity Ratings on PRSPCT-L.  They're definitely worth sharing here!

"Why Capacity Ratings are Bunk and What You Can Do About It" by Mark Noll, Prospect Research Institute

"Capacity Ratings Are Actually Small Sedans" by Mark Egge, Managing Prospect Research blog

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!  Jim

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm passionate about profiles!!!

Creating profiles is one of the favorite parts of my job.  I love putting together pieces of the puzzle to give our gift officers more information on their prospects and donors.

In my 18 years as a prospect researcher, I've found my profiles have evolved considerably.  Thanks to the Internet, what used to take days to compile can now often be done in a matter of hours.  No more trips to the library or courthouse, which I actually miss!  I once spent close to a week compiling a six-page profile for a major gift ask from a local philanthropist and business owner whose several children all had individual relationships with our organization which I wanted to capture in the profile.  These days, I find less is more, and as a rule of thumb, I try to keep most of my profiles to one page, two if there is lots of pertinent information available on a prospect.  I find that I have less time to create lengthy profiles and I've found that gift officers have less time to read them!  In this age of "information overload," the same concept can apply to research profiles.  Helen Brown stated it best earlier this year, "Don't bury the lead!"

If it's not already obvious, to say I'm passionate about profiles would be an understatement!  Between meetings, making database updates, and reviewing lists, I almost find the limited time I get to spend on research profiles these days therapeutic!  That said, I'm excited to share a recent post on PRSPCT-L which contains a link to not only several profile templates, but also several articles on profile trends and commentary at the top of the page. Thanks to Jen Filla for sharing this with us!

A recently-added highlight is the presentation Jen Filla and Michelle Machiavello gave at this year's APRA International Conference, "Improve Your Profile Technique."  Well worth the download and I especially enjoyed slide six!

Happy profiling, everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Newsletter featuring articles on Prospect Research

A colleague just forwarded a newsletter from a local fundraising firm, Jeffrey Byrne & Associates, which features two nice articles on Prospect Research.

Kay Tabscott addresses "What is Prospect Research?" while Christina Pulawski writes "Congratulations! You're Getting Research!"  I'm honored to know both of these ladies, who both have APRA Missouri-Kansas connections.  Kay has been a long-time APRA MO-KAN member as well as conference speaker and former coordinator of our mentor program.  Christina has presented at least twice at our APRA MO-KAN Conference and I use her real estate assessor website on a weekly basis!

Link here to the newsletter and scroll down to read the articles by Kay and Christina!

Friday, March 28, 2014

ARTICLE: Give Fundraising Researchers More Influence and More Credit

One of our fellow researchers, Armando Zumaya, just wrote a very nice piece for the March 23rd issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  Realizing that not everyone might have subscriber access to the Chronicle, below is Armando's article.  For those of you who do subscribe, here's the link and please comment on the article.  Thanks to Armando for sharing this with us!

Give Fundraising Researchers More Influence and More Credit

closeGive Fundraising Researchers More Influence 1
By Armando Zumaya
When I started out in fundraising several decades ago, I learned how to do a balancing act to make it on time when visiting a donor in a new city. I became skilled at driving rental cars, reading maps, and avoiding hitting pedestrians all at the same time.
These days fundraisers on business trips always take a GPS to guide them to their destinations.
But they wouldn’t think twice about doing the equivalent of stuffing the GPS in the glove compartment when it comes to finding donors: In too many fundraising offices, the people who can help us find the most lucrative sources of reliable donations are tucked away in the lowest spots on the organizational chart and often are not given opportunities to interact with the development officers they need to collaborate with, guide, and influence.
For front-line fundraisers, it’s like driving around town in circles.
When people in the development office see front-line fundraisers and prospect researchers as different types of staff members, they make a mistake. Even worse, some people don’t even think of researchers as fundraisers. They have missed an essential point: When front-line fundraisers work closely with prospect researchers, far more money flows into an organization. Prospect researchers not only identify new donors who can give big but also know that many supporters are capable of giving much more than they do.
It’s time to change this situation and start valuing the person who finds a potential gift with the same kind of compensation, stature, and leadership opportunities as the person who asks for the money.
If a prospect researcher identifies a person who gives $5-million, credit for that gift should go to the researcher at least as much as to the major-gift fundraiser. That’s often not easy for fundraising offices. But it’s possible to create a system that can monitor just how much money flows into an institution from people the researcher found out about. Salaries, performance bonuses, and other rewards should flow from such a tracking system.
It’s not just the computers that need to be programmed to provide proper credit. Front-line fundraisers should always be willing to offer praise for their partnership with a researcher who helped in landing a big gift.
Chief development officers would also benefit from relying more heavily on researchers for advice and demonstrating to the entire office how much they value them. Advice from, and even debates with, my prospect researcher has helped me raise millions of dollars.
When I have been in leadership roles, I have often found that the best people to give impartial, data-driven advice on any topic are those in prospect research and management. They can tell me where the strengths and weaknesses are in the way the organization is attracting money from foundations, individuals, and corporations.
That’s why every senior fundraising official would be wise to meet more regularly with researchers to find out what they are learning and give them some say in which fundraisers should be working with which potential big donors.
Too often, opportunities for attracting new donors have died quiet deaths on a front-line fundraiser’s desk. We all need to do better in deciding where to invest the time of front-line officers. Relying on a researcher’s analysis of who has the most potential to give the most is the best way to do that.
What’s more, researchers also often know which front-line fundraisers are doing a great job of building ties with potential donors or squandering opportunities with a poor approach.
When I am assisted by a strong researcher, I am totally prepared for a first visit with a person who has the potential to give big sums. So often the prospective supporter tells me, “You have done your research,” which means I am talking about what that person cares about.
But it’s not just front-line fundraisers and top development officials who need to change. Prospect researchers themselves need to learn to step up to the challenge and speak out for themselves more often and more loudly. By the nature of their work, prospect researchers like to be behind the scenes. But they must develop strong relationships with everyone in the development office and speak up at meetings and other settings where they can influence their peers.
In today’s economy, in which fundraisers already have to work harder than ever to attract gifts, we need to recognize the full value of every professional in the development office. We need to create an environment in which everyone is held accountable and everyone is recognized for the dollars he or she helped bring in.
Don’t leave out the people who know the directions to the destinations with the most money for your nonprofit: the prospect researchers.
Armando Zumaya is vice president for fund development at Bridge Housing, in San Francisco.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New website for searching SEC filings

Searching SEC filings can be one of the most daunting tasks for a researcher to tackle. Fortunately, there's a new website available, which several of our prospect research colleagues are raving about.

Rather than me trying to explain it to you, our colleagues at APRA MidSouth did a fine job on their very own blog.  Enjoy!

And since the subject came up, another good free resource for searching SEC filings was mentioned:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Research Links from UMKC class on "Major and Planned Gifts"

I really enjoyed presenting to Jane Lampo's "Major and Planned Gifts" class at UMKC last Friday.  Here are the links from the handout I distributed.  Thanks and good luck to everyone in the class!

The Role of Prospect Research in Fundraising
UMKC - January 31, 2014

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!!!