Prospect Research for Fundraisers

Helen Brown and Jennifer Filla have written the book I have been waiting for. It’s the book that talks to fundraisers about research.

‘Prospect Research for Fundraisers’ (Wiley, New Jersey, 2013, available from Amazon here) is a clearly-written, comprehensive, efficiently-designed book. Its mixture of straight talk, real examples and models makes it easy to read and immediately useful.

In the eight chapters and 216 pages of the hardback edition the book covers the how and the why of identifying new prospects, the different levels of research, relationship management, ethics and the law and international research. Crucially for its intended audience of fundraising leaders the book also explains how to improve the management of prospect research, and lays out future trends such as a move toward mapping relationships between prospects and donors – a trend that we at Factary have focused on with Factary Atom.

By including real case studies and personal comments (one researcher confesses she started an online newsletter to “… be more social…”), Jennifer and Helen create empathy in their reader, and drive home the message about management. We can believe that things need improving when “Mary” admits to having “… never created a process document…” for data entry, with the result that her successor had to live through a “… reporting nightmare that took months to untangle.” Now we truly understand why it’s important.

The models – especially, for me, the models of donor relationship management – are insightful. They are also clear and simple, benefiting from Helen’s superb track-record as a trainer. This is years of experience summarised; we benefit from the beauty of its simplicity.

‘Prospect Research for Fundraisers’ is a good size, in hardback. This is not a trite comment – much of the focus in the book is about making information accessible. Even the most hard-pressed fundraiser will find it easy to slip a copy into her bag or coat pocket for bed-time reading.

Put one on the pillow of your favourite fundraiser, today.

[Helen Brown is a director and shareholder in Factary, co- founded by Chris Carnie. Helen was not consulted on the content of this review.]

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