Earlier this year, I offered two free mini-courses on prospect research tools to friends and colleagues in NM and Chicago. Thirty minutes. Tell me your data hopes and dreams, and I'll share a couple time-saving hacks that I developed to cut through a list of 1,500 names (times 30 data points = 45,000 things too dang many).
The differences in attitude about this topic shocked me -- despite the fact that they had the same ballpark budget size for their organizations:
My Chicago contingent: "We wealth screen annually for our Annual Fund base and set their ratings accordingly. We do it a few times over a special campaign. We upload the data to our database so it's in the donor record and we can reference it throughout the year as needed." Those are A-student answers, my friends. Those answers optimize fundraising year over year on repeat.
My New Mexico contingent: "We don't use it because we don't actually trust it... Where does it all come from? It can't be right -- can it?"
GASP. WHEEZE. Where do I begin?
Here's the thing: We've been living in the Information Age since Alex P. Keaton carried a briefcase to high school. Email fundraising wasn't a thing until the mid-90s, but can you even imagine fundraising without it now? Without social media asks or texting? Data is BIGGER than those things combined! It's far more fundamental. It drives the underlying structure and rationale of your development program asks. It's the info to prioritize your time on relationship building. It's about understanding your donors beyond what you can gather from a couple of conversations a year and observing their taste in handbags. The results speak for themselves -- and it doesn't even have to be expensive to access when there are resources like me to run and analyze a list for you.
A few days after the mini-courses, the Santa Fe Community Foundation serendipitously reached out and said, "If you could teach anything in northern NM this year, what would it be?"
Welcome to my one-day virtual course, A Prospect Research Road Map for Beginners -- scheduled for Thursday, November 2nd.
Let's do this, NM!
Emilie, Principal and Owner