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    By Drew Fox Jordan • November 29, 2021

    4 Hacks To Help You Reboot Your Prospect Research Strategy

    reboot your prospect reseachOn sheer volume alone, the largest opportunities to grow giving live deeper in the donor pyramid than most organizations want to go — in unassigned, often unrated prospects. 

    What holds them back? Efficiency.

    In order to qualify these prospects, frontline fundraisers and advancement services professionals need to coordinate efforts that yield results. But what if we rethought qualification work around time spent per prospect — could we increase overall giving at scale?


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    As competition for donor dollars continues to increase, so too does the need for you and your organization to rethink your prospect research strategy. To help get you there quickly, here are four tips for getting started with your new approach:

    Throw Away the Old Model

    Sure, it’s worn in and comfortable, but the traditional way of identifying a new crop of prospects has simply got to go if you want to remain competitive in today’s world of fundraising. Say goodbye to the days of screening a large part of your database every three years or so. Or conducting one-by-one research on an individual. When we think about the strategies around reaching more people to qualify and disqualify them quickly, this traditional method simply lends itself to be slow - and can't be scaled either.

    Focus on Speed Screening

    When you think about screening, one of the things that you need to really invest time in is getting a full picture of everybody that's in your database. Especially when you’re trying to identify, not just major donors, but mid-level donors to help you fuel a better pipeline.

    The goal should be to move your prospects through the funnel as quickly as possible while setting up a cycle so that you can cut through your prospects pool every 5-10 weeks. While this may seem daunting, changing the way you think and approach this process is key to altering the way you fundamentally research prospects.

    Don’t Ignore the Middle

    Oh, the mid-level donor pool. The one you’ve only occasionally been willing – or had the time –  in which to dip your toe. Well, get ready to break out your best cannonball, because it’s time to go swimming. These additional donors are critical to look at as you nurture pipelines and build relationships. 

    When it comes to assessing mid-level donors, keep an eye on frequency, propensity and affinity. Gain an understanding of what levels they have given, external factors that may be at play that can help you understand their ability to give, and whether they’ve given to other similar organizations to yours. This will help you gain a clearer picture as to whether greater support is looming.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Disqualify

    A lot of times people don't like the idea of disqualifying a prospect. And yet, it's critical to do so because otherwise, you're just wasting time. If ultimately that person's never going to give, you must embrace disqualification as much as you embrace qualification because it will free up your time to connect with somebody else who's a better fit for your organization.

    Curious what results this process can yield for your organization? Read Gravyty's latest case study to see what is possible when a top research university applies artificial intelligence to its donor discovery strategy:

    Donor discovery case study

     

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