Part of the Development department’s responsibility is to get to know donors. Meeting them face to face is the best way to do so but I’ve never met a CEO, Development Director, or Gift Officer who didn’t want to see a good profile on the person, first. So, part of the department’s job is to compile salient information on prospects that will be helpful to the person cultivating and soliciting a gift.

But many organizations don’t have a full time prospect researcher and the activities of collecting, tracking, and compiling wealth, biographical, and demographic information on hundreds, even thousands of individuals rests on staff who have other full time jobs.

So what can you do to make it not only possible but easier for your team with this very important part of the fundraising process?

Make technology work for you and incorporate Salesforce, Google, and Wealth Engine into your process.

1) Create a simple and standard Prospect Profile

Narrow down the information you want to include on your profile and standardize it. Keep it simple: pick 5 areas starting with the data that is already in your system (Salesforce examples: Basic information in Contacts, Donation/Opportunity Size and History, Roles/Affiliations, and Open Activities. Configure Salesforce to generate the profile automatically.) Now you’ve got a short profile that people can automatically view or print. Communicate to the team that this is the standard profile format and start using it. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good…

If you are able to gather more information – create another section that includes fuller biographical stats, volunteering roles and history, specific wealth ratings, and gifts to other organizations.

2) Use Wealthy Zip Codes

It’s blunt but good. Zip codes are a very basic wealth indicator. And if you can find the top wealthiest zip codes in your state using Google you are half way there! A simple trick to save your team time is to set up an automatic alert in Salesforce that a wealthy zip code has been entered. As you land on a record, it will automatically tell you if they live in a wealthy area or you can run a report of those donors with wealthy zips and get started strategizing right away.

3) Know your Volunteer Leaders

Volunteering can be an indicator that someone could be inclined to give. Being a volunteer leader is an even stronger indicator that they will respond when asked or help connect you to another prospect. Secure a list of volunteer leaders in your organization, create a field for volunteer affiliation/role, and upload the list into Salesforce. Be sure to include the volunteer role in the Prospect Profile so it can be viewed in combination with other profile data and help inform your strategy.

4) Set up Google Alerts

To save your team from reading every paper and periodical searching for information on prospects and use Google Alerts instead. Set up a Google Alert that searches for your prospect’s name combined with the words like: real estate, obituary, marriage, divorce, employment, or ownership. Have Google help you identify a prospect’s change in wealth, employment or family status.

5) Consider subscribing to Wealth Engine

Wealth Engine is a robust tool for development staff that creates a prospect profile complete with affiliations, ratings, and giving capacity, provided you know the name and address of the individual. If you have Salesforce, there is a WE Connector that brings Wealth Engine to your Salesforce finger tips. Wealth Engine can save your team tremendous time when learning about a prospect, building confidence in everyone’s cultivation strategies.

If you can’t subscribe, Wealth Engine has free webinars and resources on their website (www.wealthengine.com) to help those learning about the prospecting process.

Researching a prospect can be very time consuming because of the volume of information you have to wade through. So set up these time saving research tips today and help your team get out from behind the computer and in front of the prospect!

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