#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week twelve | guest post: prospect research & gen y

Prospect research — the art of identifying and connecting potential donors with your cause. How does this translate to Gen Y donors? Is there a secret formula to identify this group of donors? Not really. There are however, a few points to keep in mind when researching this unique group.

As mentioned in other posts in the #whatgiveswednesday series, millennial donors often give to causes that they believe in and can sink their teeth into. They want to know that their time and money are going towards an initiative that is making a measurable difference. So how does prospect research relate to that? Simple. Keep the donor in mind when connecting them with an initiative you believe they would be passionate about.

So what do I mean? Working in Higher Education, I will often consider a few factors when determining if an alumnus would be interested in getting involved in a particular project. What faculty did they graduate from? Were they involved in any academic competitions? Were they a member of any clubs? Did they participate in any extra-curricular activities while they were a student? Considering these types of questions might help to identify where their passionate lies or what they would be interested in supporting or getting involved in. This is sometimes where you hear of those exceptional stories of a donor in their 20s making a $1M gift– it’s usually designated to an initiative that they have a direct connection to and are passionate about.

It’s also worthy to note that this doesn’t just translate to getting young alumni involved as donors. Could they be a guest judge or a guest lecturer? Would they be interested in being a chapter volunteer for your organization in a specific geographical location? These individuals could be excellent champions for your cause in their community if given the right opportunity.

Consider start-up companies led by the millennial age group — their approach to corporate social responsibility is going to look a lot different than what we’ve seen in the past. They won’t just see a donation as a tax break for their company, but rather an opportunity for their company to get behind an initiative where they can really add value to on a local, regional and even national or international level. Getting behind a cause that is meaningful to their company and their clients can make an impact, as it is a valuable marketing opportunity by creating a positive perception of the company, and in some cases, can likely lead to company growth.

Gen Y individuals are worthwhile to have on your prospect research radar. Strive to find ways in which your organization can utilize their constantly growing networks, experience, and insight. Keep open communication between your prospect research team and your development team, so that prospect researchers are always aware of what your fundraising priorities are. This open communication will ensure these golden Gen Y individuals aren’t missed.

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Written by Sara Glover

Sara Glover

 

Sara is a Prospect Researcher at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Connect with Sara via:
Twitter | LinkedIn 

Guest Post: The women are giving!

Sara Blakely, the gutsy founder of a wildly successful business, Spanx, is the first woman billionaire to sign Buffett and Gates’ Giving Pledge. And she’s only 43 years old!

We all know that great wealth doesn’t wait for age 60 or so anymore. But what do we know about the wealthy women of the world or even just the U.S.? How can your organization find its own Sara Blakely?

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Blakely had a problem with pantyhose and set out to solve it. Here’s the condensed version of events:

  • 1998: Age 27 she used $5,000 to explore and invent new shape wear for women
  • 2000: Oprah Winfrey listed Spanx as one of her Favorite Things
  • 2001: She pitched her product on QVC and sold 8,000 pairs in the first six minutes
  • 2005: Became a contestant on The Rebel Billionaire: Richard Branson’s Quest for the Best
  • 2006: Launched the Sara Blakely Foundation
  • 2007: Handed Oprah Winfrey a $1 million check for her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa
  • 2012: Graced the cover of Forbes magazine on the Billionaire List
  • 2013: Signed The Giving Pledge

What amazes me about Blakely is that from very early on she was thinking about giving her money away instead of waiting until she had “earned enough” to give away. The recent study commissioned by Yodlee Interactive is suggesting women need less money than men to feel wealthy. I think they are way off base; I suggest that women feel differently about money.

If you listen to Blakely’s interview at the Forbes 400 Summit, she tells us that her entrepreneurial drive has always focused on helping women. Money came along for the ride. Let that sink in for minute.

Not only has Blakely known from really early on that her goal in life is to help women, but she tells us in the Forbes 400 Summit interview that her relationship with Richard Branson has given her a mentor in business and philanthropy, and that joining The Giving Pledge gave her access to people who could teach her about philanthropy.

Blakely readily tells us the problems we can help her solve: how can she be a great philanthropist and how can she help women.

Here are two BIG takeaways the vocal dynamo Blakely tells us that can improve our prospect research and fundraising efforts:

  • Change your giving capacity calculations to account for women who are more likely to give sooner in their careers because they view wealth accumulation as a means to an end – that end being helping others.
  • Give women the opportunity to network with your top donors. Wealthy women, especially those earning the wealth, are time-pressed with work and family and want business and philanthropy mentors.

Sara Blakely’s philanthropy is in its very early stages, but I can’t help but cringe when she finds a mentor like Richard Branson instead of… maybe business superstar Jennifer Lopez or what about Jacki Zehner of Women Moving Millions?

Get ready. The women are giving!

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Written by Jennifer Filla

jenfillaAs CEO of the Prospect Research Institute, Jen Filla helps create and deliver the first-ever graded, online courses in prospect research in the fundraising industry. She is also a prospect researcher at Aspire Research Group.

Connect with Jennifer via:
Twitter | Enews | Web

Guest Blog: Top 5 Takeaways/Moments from APRA International’s 27th Annual Conference

From July 30 – August 2nd, we had the pleasure of attending the 27th Annual APRA International Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Nearly 1,000 attendees from multiple aspects of the profession – prospect research, relationship management, prospect management, data analytics, advancement services and fundraising – came together to network and participate in educational workshops. Like the prospect research sponges we are (okay, maybe a little nerdy?) we were eager to gain some knowledge and insights from fellow researchers.

  1. Proactive vs. Reactive Research. While both types of research are extremely valuable to development, the importance of focusing on proactive research was stressed in numerous conference sessions and keynote addresses. In the past, prospect researchers have been focused on reactive research (research profiles, answering reference-type questions, etc.). While this type of research is still a pivotal part of the prospect research field, there has been a large shift in the last few years towards proactive research, which is instrumental in the laying of a foundation for a successful campaign. What exactly is proactive research? This type of research includes establishing and tracking measurable metrics, generating project-focused new prospects, and effectively managing portfolio sizes. How is this done? Prospect research must identify and strive to forecast the needs of each individual development team member in order to best support them (see point #4 for more information on developing partnerships with fundraisers).
  2. APRA Canada Meet-up. Members of APRA Canada arranged to have dinner together one night while we were in Vegas, with 16 of us in attendance. We ‘inconspicuously’ (not!) met in the hotel lobby where a Canadian flag was proudly being waved. It was fantastic to compare notes from our sessions, and to swap stories from the prospect research trenches. It was beneficial and fun to share prospect research tactics from north of the border. And we finally didn’t get weird looks for our use of “eh”.
  3. Network – Use other prospect researchers as a resource! Best practices are generally transferrable from one organization to the other, no matter what country or type of organization you are from. We found that networking with fellow conference attendees, volunteers and speakers was extremely beneficial in taking ideas and concepts back to our organization. Coming from an academic institution ourselves, it was extremely helpful to interact with individuals from development offices of American institutions who have well-established and successful fundraising practices in place (Harvard University, University of California – Berkley, University of Pennsylvania to name a few).
  4. Strategic partnerships with Major Gift Officers. (a.k.a. Help us help you!) This ties in with proactive research (point #1) but deserves its own point. Prospect Research should understand the fundraisers’ benchmarks and their funding priorities, and on the flip side, the fundraisers should clearly communicate these goals. All too often, workplace silos can get in the way of productive partnerships and meaningful conversations that can result in success (ie GIFTS!). So, how do you develop these partnerships? It is important for the prospect research team to demonstrate to major gift officers that they are strategic partners in the fund development process. Some ways this partnership can be harnessed is through open communication with the fund development team, attending campaign/team meetings, having portfolio review meetings and integrating your prospect research work with their major gift goals (proactive research!).
  5. Smorgasbord of helpful tips and tricks. Investment advisors, real estate, public disclosure documents! Oh my! Between the conference sessions, keynotes, chatting with vendors, and networking we learned a lot of useful tips and tricks that will undoubtedly aid us on our quest to become prospect research superstars. We won’t go into great (and probably boring) detail about all the new and tweaked research tactics we learned; just know that we were in research and data bliss over the entire course of the conference.

We hope to one day return again to the APRA International Conference, to continue to gain knowledge and strengthen our skills in this field. Until then, we will continue to implement some of the great advice and suggestions to our own portfolios, and strive to practice exceptional research and support to our team.

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Written by Shannon Doherty & Sara Glover

Sara Glover Shannon Doherty

Shannon & Sara are both Prospect Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University.