What is prospect research?

Fundraising plays a vital role in supporting the valuable work of many non-profit organisations, including charities, institutions and community groups in the UK and beyond. Prospect research provides. Read on if you’d like to know a little more about prospect research and why it is crucial in providing essential support and intelligence to fundraising and the non-profit sector.

Why do non-profits undertake prospect research?

Successful and rewarding fundraising depends on developing good relationships with donors and supporters. Prospect research helps non-profit organisations to build and maintain those good relationships, most especially with high value and major donors.

How does prospect research help build strong relationships with donors?

Various studies have shown that donors:

  • like to support non-profits that they feel an affinity with or connection to (Breeze, B. (2010) ‘How Donors Choose Charities’; CAF (2014) Why We Give).;
  • are more likely to engage in a long-term relationship with a non-profit if they are asked for appropriate donation amounts (Sargeant & Jay (2014) Fundraising management);
  • want to receive appropriate communications and information that is tailored to their interests (Lincoln and Saxton (2012) Major Donor Giving Research Report); and
  • want non-profits to recognise and understand their skills, expertise and experience (Lincoln and Saxton (2012) Major Donor Giving Research Report).

Research helps non-profits meet these donor expectations and preferences. For example, prospect research can help to:

  • identify relevant donors who have an interest in a particular cause;
  • ensure all communications to donors are tailored to their interests and relevant to them; and
  • avoid sending donors unwanted or irrelevant communications which may waste their valuable time.

Through all this, prospect research can help to provide donors with opportunities to experience joy, satisfaction, fulfilment and enrichment from supporting causes close to their hearts.

How does prospect research help non-profits to be efficient?

Donors naturally want as much money to go to the actual cause as possible and not to be wasted on unnecessary admin.

Prospect research helps non-profits avoid wasting time and effort by using data and evidence to help focus resources efficiently. For example, prospect research contributes to the development of realistic fundraising strategies which helps non-profits to develop fundraising approaches that are likely to succeed.

Prospect research can also ensure that potential supporters and donors are relevant and reputable, helping organisations to avoid potential reputational or financial risk. Approached legally and ethically, prospect research also ensures that donors’ expectations and rights are kept at the centre of any strategic planning, helping to ensure success in fundraising.

In short, prospect research ensures that non-profits are able to use their limited funds in the most effective, efficient and ethical way in order to ensuring a rewarding and satisfying experience for the donor.

More information

If you represent a non-profit and would like to know more, have a look at Factary’s products and services to see how see prospect research can support you in your fundraising.

If you are a donor and would like to discuss prospect research in more detail, please do get in touch with us.

If you want to understand more about the benefits of prospect research, we recommend reading Good Asking, a report by the Institute of Fundriaisng (IoF) on the role of research in efficient, effective and enjoyable fundraising.