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What is Prospect Research? Its Uses and Importance in Building New Clients

What is Prospect Research? Its Uses and How it Helps in Building New Clients and Connections
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There has been a staggering increase in the number of non-profit organizations and startups worldwide. More and more people are turning their heads in the direction of these organizations. But do you know that around 90% of the revenue of non-profits is received from just 20% of the donors? This means that a few of the clients contribute more than the rest and that is enough for the organization to achieve its goals. In order to find new clients, prospect research is conducted. This activity is so effective that it almost guarantees future clients. Whatever the size of your organization is, this research will work. But it certainly ain’t easy. It can consume a lot of time, especially if the entity is new. In this modern world where resources are limited and every buck counts, efforts to increase leads is certainly the need of the hour and this particular type of activity which we mentioned is extremely effective. Even b2b companies provide a similar type of service. Acquiring leads or donors is very similar. This comparison is done just to give you the idea that prospect research really works and it is a must-have for your profit and non-profit expanding plans.

What is Prospect Research?

Prospect research is also known as donor prospecting and donor research if we are talking about non-profits. It focuses on foundations, individuals, and corporations that support the vision and mission of the organization. By compiling data driven insights, prospect research enables non-profits to make important decisions about where to head for donations and also, the art of maintaining long term relations with them. If we talk about b2b companies here, then the goal is the same-to capture more leads.

In order to accomplish a task, effort is needed. And if the task is simple then we don’t have to do anything complicated. But if the task is complex, then a technique helps a lot. If we master the technique then we don’t feel like there’s any ‘effort’ needed. Non-profit organizations need to gather funds to achieve their goals. And that’s when prospect research steps in. This technique, attracts information such as personal backgrounds, charitable motivations, and philanthropic histories and other spending habits. Moreover, it also evaluates a prospect’s capacity to buy. It digs up some very important data such as affinity for an organization(desire to give). 


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Who are the Users of Prospect Research?

There is a myth that only nonprofits conduct donor prospecting but this is not true. There are many more organizations that make use of this valuable activity.

These includes:

  • Faith-based organizations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Arts and culture organizations
  • Environmental units
  • Educational Institutions

Basic Uses of Prospect Research

Prospect research consists of some areas which have different business development or fundraising characteristics. These are capital campaigns, major deals or giving, and annual giving.

Capital Campaigns

Large projects such as construction of a building fall under capital campaigns. It is a long-term fundraising effort that is tied to a big project. There is something known as a quiet phase where a fixed number of engagement is expected from the prospects. This is followed by the public phase in which the public participates in a large number. The best part about prospect research is that it can help attract clients both in the quiet phase as well as the public phase.

Major Deals or Giving

In the existing database, there are potential clients who can be a big source of revenue. Prospect research helps you discover them. This is done by going through past deals or giving patterns that can help you guess when the next major gift is going to arrive. For example you have loyal clients that are faithfully yours and their engagement has been steadily increasing over the past few years. With the help of prospect research, you can guess what strategy should be used to get the next contract . While persuading for a business deal might sound perfectly normal, but planning the timeline and the strategy to collect the next contract and successfully executing it is done by prospect research.

Annual Giving

The day to day operations of the organization are carried out from the annual fund. You will be asking for donations in your annual fund, but with the help of prospect research, annual donators are guaranteed to increase. This is just for non-profits.

Is Wealth Screening and Prospect Research the Same?

Wealth screening is a part of prospect research. The bigger picture is of course the latter. The analysis of the financial aspects of the client’s profile such as real estate ownership, stock ownership, and political giving. This only focuses on the ability to give. Not only wealth indicators, but also philanthropic indicators are taken into account in prospect research.

Metrics Used to Measure Prospect Research

There are some metrics used to measure the success of a prospect research. These are:

Dollars Raised

The best way to see how much success you had while doing prospect research is by the money received. The dollars raised will give you a clear picture of how well your efforts are going.

Gifts closed

Another way of measuring the success of the research is by calculating the amount of gifts closed. Gifts over here do not mean the perfumes wrapped up in wrapping paper but the things which can be counted as an asset to your organization.

Meetings Scheduled

The number of meetings set up with clients or future donors also gives a picture of how well your research is going. Meetings are meant to provide you with prospects who are ready to donate or convert and the details are usually discussed in these meetings.

Number of prospects actively being solicited

This is another way of measuring the success of the prospect research. The amount of prospects who are reached or asked to donate will give an idea of how much conversions or donations can be expected. This is another important metric to evaluate the success of the activity.

How Prospect Research is Done?

We have mentioned some very important points related to prospect research. Now it’s time to see how it is actually done. In other words, what are the steps to follow?

Prospect Identification

The first step is pretty simple. When you are brainstorming or thinking of who to invite to your party. What do you do? Write down the names of each and everyone you want to invite to your party. But there’s no party over here. In fact you have to make a list of all the potential donors or prospects. We can do this by more than one method. Either you can analyze existing prospect  databases, take the help of social media platforms, or simply ask the existing supporters for referrals.

  1. Database Analysis
  2. One of the most important steps is database analysis. It gives an insight into their constituents.Going through prospect information for example giving history, frequency, and gift amounts is crucial in identifying patterns and trends to construct your B2B engagement strategies or fundraising techniques. Analyzing the database helps a lot in identifying major gift prospects.

  3. Social Media can be Handy
  4. Social media is literally everywhere nowadays. So why should it not make a move in prospect research? It can be very handy when it comes to discovering new leads and increasing awareness of their cause. Platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Linkedin, Instagram allow you to reach a broader audience and build positive and fruitful relationships with prospects who have affinity for your organization and mission. Tailor-made advertising campaigns for specific audiences with the purpose of reaching certain demographics is one of the most effective strategies to build your brand or increase fundraising. Some investment might be needed to create top-notch content. Sharing success stories is the source of attracting potential prospects while educating the followers about your organization pulls potential prospects like a magnet attracts iron.

  5. Referrals Magic
  6. Your existing clients have faith in you. And what better way to attract more of them or leads than referrals. Even while buying a product or service, we go through the reviews. Before admitting our children in a new school, we ask the existing students or alumnis about their experience with it. Similarly, if someone is looking to buy services or donate something to a charity or non profit, they will ask around about the authenticity of the particular organization. When they will get to know that someone they know has been using services or donating somewhere for a long time then BINGO! Half trust won. That is the magic of referrals. Referrals hold immense importance not just in the fundraising game, but also in other departments of life such as job hunt or business operations. If you are seeking referrals from an existing client or donor, then make sure to mention the impact THEY had in your organization. Update them about the ongoing and upcoming projects. Share success stories with them and provide them(if possible) reports showing the landscape of the organization’s operations. And the biggest thing to do which doesn’t cost a single penny; thank them for their valuable contribution both in terms of business and referrals as well.


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Research

  1. Personal Details
  2. The beginning is by going through the surfing habits of the person. Go through all the social media profiles such as Facebook, X, Instagram, Linkedin as well as personal websites, or any other surface where they’re likely to deposit information. Their age, education, and profession will flow smoothly out through this activity. If the prospect has a business and a website then make sure you visit that webpage to gather as much information as you can.

  3. Past Buying History
  4. There are databases available that can provide you with the past buying history of the customers. Moreover, you can read publications, and sales journals. If you want to dig deeper than you also can go through the annual reports.

  5. Capacity to Invest or Give
  6. Carry out a detailed analysis of the public records related to real estate holdings, such as property value and ownership. You can also go through the connections of the prospect. You will be able to do this by searching the business directories and company website. One thing to keep in mind while extracting this data is to keep things legit. You have to make sure that you only scrape data that is publicly available. You must respect privacy and ethical guidelines.

Analysis

The next step is to do a detailed analysis to evaluate each prospect’s affinity towards the entity’s cause and get an idea of the intention of the prospect.

Strategy

The analysis is not done without a purpose. It is used to set up a tailored solicitation strategy which is made for each and every prospect. Relevant communication channels, carving out personalized messages, and the use of special engagement opportunities that go hand in hand with the prospect’s interest and other likes and dislikes are included in the strategy creation.

In a Nutshell

When a business wants to find clients , it relies on marketing techniques such as advertising and digital marketing. Without these systematic activities, increasing sales is a mammoth task. But once these activities are conducted, the leads keep coming in and that too in huge numbers. Similarly, if a non-profit wants to increase the amount of donations then using prospect research guarantees higher fundraising. The systematic approach to find new clients is very similar to a science where new clients are persuaded to engage with your organization.

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