PROSPECT RESEARCH KEEPS YOUR CAMPAIGN FOCUSED AND EFFICIENT
The January/February Advancing Philanthropy features on its cover and in a thoughtful story why your donor and prospect database is the heart of your campaign. Gardner&Associates recommends to its clients to pay careful attention to four critical elements of your database:
1. Inventory the personal information categories in your database to ensure that they capture the essential details accurately and reflect all campaign elements that you will need to cultivate your prospect, recognize them and build your relationship.
2. Conduct a wealth rating screening of your likely high-value prospects. A screening confirms capacity and giving patterns. It gives you objective indicators of how to approach them.
3. Review and update your internal protocols regarding maintaining your database, its software and your database provider contracts. Make sure that all software is current and compatible linking your word processing, accounting and phonathon programs.
4. Update your database management calendar and protocols. Ensure that you focus efforts on enhancing you personal data to begin each new calendar year confident in your database.
The AFP article reports that access to information increases campaign efficiency and ensures that you are making the “right ask of the right prospect.” It notes that larger NPOs may have a staff research and outlines free and paid resources available to all NPOs. Prospect research is not just good strategy; it is the elemental investment your NPO makes in its fundraising strategy.
Paul and Walt find that starting a campaign with a wealth rating screening organizes your campaign capacity building in three ways:
1. Staff and volunteer leadership are engaged in identifying prospects to screen. This collaborative effort moves everyone in the same direction and initiates team building.
2. The screening results assure that the interviews and survey participants identified for the Pre-Campaign Study are appropriate and can give meaningful information on which to plan the campaign.
3. The screening process adds valuable new personal information to your database. From your initial discovery interview with a prospect, your NPO staff and leadership have current, accurate information on which to build your relationship and “moves management” strategy.Today’s giving climate is highly competitive. Prospect research analytics help your NPO understand the capacity and giving patterns of the full array of your members, donors and volunteers. Without current research your fundraising efforts can be both inefficient and ineffective.
ARE YOU MAKING THE BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY?
Technology, applications and media change at a head spinning pace. Are you participating in AFP or other available live and online training sessions to keep abreast of how to “plug in” to these opportunities?
Consider four elementary applications of technology:
1. Are you using a professional mail house for your direct mail efforts? If not, you are missing the opportunity to clean up duplications, get current addresses and augment your database with prospects who give to NPOs with similar missions.
2. Are you using pictures and brief videos of your NPO’s events, activities and impact? If not, you are missing the chance to show and tell your story. Testimonials are powerful in making your point. YouTube is a vehicle for spreading your story.
3. Do you use Facebook or social media to engage your supporters and prospects? Remember that nearly one in three adults (even seniors) use Facebook or other social media to connect with friends, to reach out to new relationships and to learn about what is happening in the world. Facebook and social media can even lead revolutions; as we have seen recently. Regularly telling your NPO story through social networking should be at the top of your daily to do list.
4. Do you have an app for your NPO? With the rapidly spreading use of smart phones, having an app for your NPO is another way to keep your alumni, friends, donors, volunteers and prospect “in the know” about the activities, impact and mission of your NPO. Once that app is downloaded, you have a continuous connection with that prospect. With an app prospects become “insiders” and have a continuing stream of information to help them engage.
DO YOU MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT?
Once today is gone, you have lost that opportunity. Are you employing “moves management” to keep on track and make your days, weeks and months count?
Paul and Walt practice and recommend “moves management” to make every day count. It is the systematic process of collecting, analyzing and applying information. Whether you are in sales, service or philanthropy, your primary focus is to build relationships. Beginning with your first or discovery meeting with a prospect, you build on the information in your database. Each conversation or interaction gives you more information and confirmation that you are headed in the right direction. “Moves management” augments information and builds credibility between you and your prospect. Having a strategy and cultivation schedule allows you to make every day and contact count.
GARDNER REPORT TURNS THREE
The March issue of the Gardner Report is our twenty-fifth issue. It begins the third year that Paul and Walt share experiences and information. Thank you for your interest in philanthropy. We are blessed to have the opportunity to help a range of NPOs meet the challenges of today’s economy, address changing federal, state and local budget conditions and to achieve your missions.
THINGS IN PASSING
- Walt’s undergraduate college, Lock Haven University, has two interesting alumni outreach initiatives: it offers a series of monthly online discussions (Go to Meeting) on topics identified by alumni in a survey and it launched a free app for smart phones that keeps alumni connected with campus and information about alumni, faculty, sports and cultural events.
- Northeastern State University commissioned a wealth rating screening. It was an effort to select those prospects, but the results shed a new light on prospect capacity and interest. It will help NSU focus its Charting the Second Century campaign.
- Food Bank of North Central Arkansas finished its strategic planning process for 2011-2. The board and staff are now working to implement the plan and are focusing on capacity building efforts to ensure that the goals are achieved. In the process, FBNCA refined its mission and vision statements which led to a new logo and tagline. This NPO provides food security for nine counties. They continue to grow their capacity and outreach by over 10% each year.
- The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Federal Budget Study working group is getting oriented to the new dynamic in the federal budget and its collateral impact on Arkansas NPOs. This group of twenty-two NPOs is gaining valuable first-hand knowledge in how to alter their plans to support their missions.
- Gardner&Associates invests in NPOs by providing pro bono support. Paul is active in AFP of Central Arkansas and sits on the Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Home and Family Service board. Walt is President of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks and helps the Yvonne Richardson Community Center, Youth Strategies and Lock Haven University in their planning. By doing these projects we help to return to the community.