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Development Research: An Overview . Independent Education Summer Development Conference June 20, 2011. Development Research: An Overview . Cindy McCarthy & Jon Thorsen, The Nature Conservancy. The Basics.

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development research an overview

DevelopmentResearch: AnOverview

Independent Education Summer Development Conference

June 20, 2011

development research an overview1

DevelopmentResearch: AnOverview

Cindy McCarthy &

Jon Thorsen,

The Nature Conservancy

the basics
The Basics

Prospect research, also known as development research or fundraising research, is a process in fundraising wherein a researcheridentifies and provides relevant information about potential donors to an organization… Organizations generally employ prospect researchers to find and qualify potential "major" donors who have the resources to make a large gift to the organization.

A prospect researcher will assess an individual's, company's … or foundation's capacity and propensity to donate. Prospect researchers use a variety of resources, including public records, business and financial publications, and Internet databases.”

- From Wikipedia

prospect research products
Prospect Research Products
  • Identification of New Prospects
    • Individuals, Corporations, Foundations
    • “Major Gift” donors
  • In-Depth Research
    • Capacity
    • Propensity
    • Connections
circles in the stream
Circles in the Stream
  • “Development” implies a continuum
  • Research has applications across this continuum
    • Different needs at different stages of the relationship
    • Different information to drive decisions
  • Researchers ensure strong donor pipelines
    • Major gifts
    • Middle donors
    • Planned gifts
  • Maintaining a strong base of donors
  • Pipeline for future major gifts
  • Pipeline for future planned gifts
  • Constituents with present value: involvement, advocacy, community, connections
  • Looking for the “big fish”
  • Moments in time
  • Data and its application
  • Clear and present values
  • Predictability
the air approach
The “AIR” Approach
  • Successful research establishes three important criteria for prospective major gift donors:
  • Assets – The ability to make a major gift (according to your organization’s definition)
  • Interest – Philanthropic priorities that align with your funding opportunities
  • Relationship – An established connection to your organization, preferably to a key leader, volunteer or staff person
the researcher gift officer partnership
The Researcher\Gift Officer Partnership
  • Leveraging distinct skill sets
  • Valuing information as a commodity
  • Establishing the two-way street
  • Investing in shared success
  • Understanding the gift process in order to request and supply the right information at the right time
  • Strategic vision
  • Tactical application
scenario one
Scenario One
  • At your organization’s annual fundraising gala, you meet Joe Jones, a longtime friend of one of your trustees. Joe shares that he grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, and is in town helping settle some family affairs related to his father’s death several months ago. In chatting with Joe, you also learn that he and his wife live on the West Coast, where he has built his business, but plan to relocate to the Shenandoah Valley after he retires next year.
scenario one questions
Scenario One: Questions
  • Who was his father? (Mother?)
  • Is there family land? Home?
  • Are there siblings?
  • Business on West Coast?
  • Who does Joe know?
  • Possible Wealth events?
scenario one answers
Scenario One: Answers
  • Trustees and volunteers
  • Internet
    • Google, Business bios, Linked In
    • Newsmeat (political contributions)
      • Gives address , Employer, Title – view actual filing
    • NY Times archives (Local library)
  • Obituary Information
  • Real Estate databases
    • UVA Portico site
    • Lexis/Nexis
scenario two
Scenario Two
  • In reviewing your monthly giving report, you notice a new donor name—The Prospect Family Foundation. Come to find out, it is the newly established family foundation of Peggy Prospect, a longtime annual supporter of your organization. Peggy usually gives $250 per year for general operating support, and this gift from her foundation is at the same level.
  • Why is this significant?
  • Family Foundations
    • Indicator of wealth-difficult to set up/manage
    • 5% distribution of assets each year
    • Form 990 filed annually
    • More control – investments and giving
  • Corporate Foundations
  • Community Foundations
    • Donor Designated Funds
    • Donor Advised Funds
      • Anonymous giving
      • Easy to set up
  • Guidestar:
  • Foundation Center:
  • Foundation’s website
  • Foundation 990 reports:
    • Assets
    • Contributions – discover source closely held or publicly traded stock ownership
    • Giving Totals
    • Grantees
      • Types of charities they support
      • Gift ranges
      • Determine particular interests of individuals through designations
      • Trustees - and contact information
scenario three
Scenario Three
  • You receive a call from Bill, one of your most loyal volunteers. Bill is calling to tell you that he won’t be able to help organize this summer’s charity golf tournament. He is in the process of selling his software development company to a corporation in the Silicon Valley, and the negotiation process will require extensive travel in the upcoming months.
researching companies
Researching Companies
  • Public vs. Private
    • Public
      • Stock is bought/sold on the public marketplace
      • Government regulated
    • Private
      • Company is owned by a sole individual or small group of investors
      • Financials not disclosed
public companies
Public Companies
  • Insiders
  • Stock holdings
    • Yahoo Finance
    • SEC/Edgar
      • DEF14A
    • 10K Wizard
  • Salary
    • SEC documents
    • Salary Surveys – industry
    • Set up alerts in Google using industry specific publications
  • Company profile
    • Google Finance (Reuters)
    • Hoovers
privately held companies
Privately Held Companies
  • No government disclosure required
  • Often family owned
    • Value of company
    • Percentage ownership
  • Dun and Bradstreet
    • Self reported sales and net worth
  • “Comparable” financials
  • Public Records look up – varies by state
  • News articles, listings (e.g. Forbes)
  • Trustees

-- bios sometimes found through SEC search

company related wealth events
Company-related Wealth Events
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Terms may be publicly disclosed
    • SEC documents/annual reports – 8K would report merger activity
  • Initial Public Offerings
    • Private Company selling stock to general public to raise capital
  • News Alerts
donor reports
Donor Reports
  • Targeted Internet Searches
    • “prospect name” and “donor”
    • Use .org and .edu domains
    • “name” and “million” and “gift”
  • Searching annual reports
  • Paid databases
    • NOZA/Prospect Research Online
  • Affiliation to your organization
    • Alumnus, Donor, Volunteer
  • Donor to like-minded organization

-- use “site” search above for gifts to like minded orgs

  • Volunteer or director at similar organization
  • Other
    • Expressed interest in your organization
  • Muckety
  • Little Sis
  • SEC Filings –
  • Guidestar
    • Subscription service; search by person
  • BoardEx
political contributions
Political Contributions
  • Federal
    • Newsmeat
    • Campaign Money
  • State Level (Virginia)
    • Virginia Public Access Project
prospect identification
Prospect Identification
  • Data Mining
    • Existing donor base
    • Real Estate (wealthy zip codes)
    • Predictive Modeling
  • Electronic Asset Screening
  • Peer Screening
    • Who do your trustees know?
    • Sphere of Influence Analysis
predictive analytics data mining
Predictive Analytics/ Data Mining
  • Why is it happening?
  • What opportunities am I missing?
  • How do we do things better?
  • Finding patterns in large historical data sets that can be usefully applied to predict future behavior
predictive analytics
Predictive Analytics
  • Applying the characteristics of your best donors to the larger pool of potential donors
    • Activities
    • Involvement
    • Participation
    • Engagement
  • Create and test models for their predictive precision
modeling major gifts
Modeling Major Gifts
  • What behavior do we wish to predict?
  • What variables will we use?
  • Levels and types of previous involvement (affinity)
  • Demographic factors (capacity)
  • Linkages (relationships)
  • Used a model that created multiple analyses of multiple factors
    • Internal data, wealth screening information, demographic data
  • We were able to predict at very high rates whether a donor would make a future major gift
  • Checking the model against real data in the database produced a correlation of over 80% for our top two prospect sets
debunking some common myths
Debunking Some Common Myths
  • Research is Not:
  • A magic bullet
  • A substitute for relationship building
  • An excuse to delay a visit or ask
  • An “other duty as assigned”
  • A clerical task
  • Typing a name into Google
  • Research cannot be done in one’s spare time
  • …because “spare time” is an extinct concept
research development
Research & Development
  • Just as in the for-profit world, Research requires an immediate investment to produce future results
  • We need to be realistic about what we are trying to achieve and what it will take to achieve it
    • Budget & Resources
    • Training & Supervision
    • Time & Patience
  • A true major gift program requires – and deserves – an honest investment in Research
apra code of ethics
APRA Code of Ethics
  • Integrity – be truthful and respectful
  • Accountability – protect donor privacy
  • Practice – be accurate and appropriate
  • Conflict of interest – protect your organization
  • Write reports as if the donor is reading over your shoulder
  • Be prepared to show any donor any information you’ve collected
  • Association of Advancement Services Professionals (AASP):
    • Best practices project:
  • Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA):
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP):
  • Prspct-L:
  • FundSvcs:
  • AASP:
  • Best Practices site:
  • APRA: