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Around the World with Prospect Research. Carol McConaghy Thorp, CFRE Managing Director Professional Services Group Prospect Information Network 1.888.557.1326 Prospect Research Basics. What Is It? Understand its purpose & role

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Around the world with prospect research l.jpg

Around the World with Prospect Research

Carol McConaghy Thorp, CFRE

Managing Director

Professional Services Group

Prospect Information Network


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Prospect Research Basics

  • What Is It?

  • Understand its purpose & role

    • To collect and analyze prospect information necessary for relationship building/solicitation

    • Research generates leads (proactive) through prospecting activities and responds (reactive) to leads from field staff

    • Both activities are important to fundraising and equally challenging, especially with regard to international prospect research

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Prospect Research Basics

  • First: Expectations: understand how much time it takes to conduct prospect research

  • Second: Determine how much time your researcher(s) has to devote to your program:

    • Domestic Individual Prospects (reactive and proactive)

    • Corporate & Foundation Research Support

    • Prospect Management & Tracking Responsibilities

    • Database Management

    • Staff/Departmental Management Responsibilities

    • Inter-departmental Meetings & Projects

    • Intra-departmental Committees & Obligations

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Typical Assignment

    • Researcher handed a name (often misspelled) with little or no additional information from field staff; given tight deadline for research profile

    • Researcher given list of names (10-100+) on Monday to be completely researched by Friday…

    • Researcher asked to find “rich people” in a particular class, geographical area or some other broad designation

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Good News

    • Researcher will be able to complete each request…but…

  • Bad News

    • Not in the timeline requested

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Prospect Research Basics

  • The Answer?

    • A four letter word:

      • PLAN

      • PLAN

      • PLAN!

  • Work ahead with research, ESPECIALLY TRUE for international projects and prospects

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Meet with Research at end of fiscal year or include in planning meeting(s) over the summer

  • Inform Research as early as possible of annual travel calendar

  • Determine scope of services needed as early as possible

    • Also determine if information needs vary by staff (ie President, ED, new staff person, volunteer)

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Typical sources/methods:

    • Books/directories (ie, Who’s Who)

    • CD-ROMs – many of the directories are now on CD

    • On-line databases – fee-based

    • Internet sites – free

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Most of the sources used today are now in electronic form and available via the web – either free or fee-based:

    • Newspapers

    • Magazines/periodicals

    • Directories

    • CD-ROMs

    • Bibliographies/links

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Information necessary for relationship building/solicitation for domestic prospects:

    • Insider/securities holdings

    • Real Estate holdings/value

    • Privately held company information and ownership

    • Non-profit affiliations/gifts

    • Biographical information & interests

  • Information is collected, synthesized, analyzed and organized into a written profile

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Prospect Research Basics

  • Sound easy?

  • Prospect research is demanding and time-consuming (although fun!)

  • Typical timeframe is 8 hours for a comprehensive profile

  • International research poses more challenges and adds complexities to the research process

  • Expectations need to be adjusted

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International Prospect Research

  • Special Challenges

    • Information on international prospects is not often public nor accessible for a fee

    • Information that is available on international prospects is often not in the English language

    • Researcher often has little to start with and names/naming conventions in different countries are confusing yet specific

    • Researcher needs to become expert on different countries and regions to research effectively

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International Prospect Research

  • Research requires greater lead time – rush jobs are sure to fail, not produce information and not meet anyone’s expectations…

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International Prospect Research

  • International research takes more time (for reasons we will go into shortly) and may require additional information for traveling staff (President/VP/ED or if staff person new to area)

    • Country Profile

    • Economic Profile

    • Customs, Travel tips

    • Language

    • Prospect Profile

    • Other Contacts/Network

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International Prospect Research

  • Try to focus the researcher on just a few geographical areas so that she can become intimately familiar with them (i.e.,culture, custom, families, economics, philanthropy)

  • Determine how the researcher will interface with your program – will she be responsible for identifying wealthy prospects, researching names you provide or researching the country, customs, etc as a whole?

  • So…what do you really need?

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International Prospect Research

  • Remember to “determine the scope”

  • Information needed to qualify and cultivate international prospects is the same as needed for domestic prospects but add country information to the list and build in more time for retrieval:

    • Wealth indicators/assets

      • Real estate holdings, business wealth, family wealth, stock holdings; foundation affiliation, other assets

    • Biographical/interest information

    • Business/professional

    • Non-profit affiliations/gifts

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International Prospect Research

  • Here is a highlight a few good sources to get you started

  • More extensive bibliography included for you to use or distribute back at the office

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International Prospect Research

  • General sites

    • Dow Jones Interactive (approx. $75 month additional fees for articles)

    • Dialog ($300 to sign up and monthly fees for use); has over 400 databases, many international sources and sites

    • Bloomberg Box (about $1500 per month; covers every publicly traded company in the world and profiles on high level individuals; government officials etc)

    • Join PRSCT-L, FUNDUK and INTFUND list serves

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International Prospect Research

  • General sites

    • New England Development Research Association (NEDRA –

    • Internet Prospector –

    • Forbes –

    • Virtual reference –

    • AJR Newslink –

    • Aileena –

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International Prospect Research

  • Phone directories

    • Telephone Directories - find foreign phone numbers, has links to country directories

    • International Look-up - addresses and phone numbers of foreign companies

    • International Directories – - yellow and white pages of many countries

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Prospect Research - Europe

  • Tips on Getting Information

    • Long-standing attitude of fear toward the release of private names and information (many think its based on WWII and dictatorships)

    • Privacy and data protection legislation is being incorporated into national law(s).

    • Researchers need to avoid highly personal information (as always)

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Prospect Research - Europe

  • Alternate/Supplemental Approach

    • If you have one good volunteer/prospect, use them to review lists of other prospects for you

    • Ask research to look for prospects who live in NY but have European business addresses

    • This has been very effective in my experience

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Prospect Research - Europe

  • According to Christopher Carnie, Director Factary Europe & The Factary (NEDRA News, Winter 2000 Vol 13.2), researchers will find it easier if they can speak/read at least four languages but that some sites do translate into English language.

  • It appears that more and more sites are offering an English translation.

  • Included with this information is a listing of site useful for European prospect research.

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Prospect Research – Europe

  • Some pointers:

    • has Italy, Russia, Spain (put other ones)

    • Newspapers are your best source, especially European “yellow press” which covers society, includes biographies and social “who’s whos”

    • Check out for society news in Europe (mainly UK)

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Prospect Research - Asia

  • Some pointers

    • Learn the naming convention!

    • Families are the main focus of financial assistance, not philanthropy

    • Stigma associated with public displays of wealth/conspicuous consumption

    • Lexis/Nexis is the most comprehensive source, next is Dow Jones Interactive. These are great starting points.

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Prospect Research - Asia

  • These sources work if your prospect is prominent enough to be mentioned in the news.

  • International Whos Who and wealthy lists from Forbes, Fortune and Asia Inc are a great next step as is Whos Who of Business in Asia and Asiaweek has an annual list of powerful people.

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Prospect Research - Asia

  • If prospect is an executive at a major company, information will come even easier.

  • Bloomberg box (check business school library) makes searching by name easy and even collects biographical information on Asian/foreign individuals.

  • Asian Company Handbook lists company’s shareholders.

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