An increasing number of not-for-profits in Australia and New Zealand are developing major gift programs, and the key to their success is undertaking thorough prospect research.

In the US and UK many not-for-profits now have at least one in-house researcher on the fundraising team. This is still rare in Australia, but the situation is changing as interest in major gift work grows and the value of research is appreciated.

Prospect research has been made enormously easier by the number and range of resources now available online, which greatly enhances the traditional printed information available. The main research tools include:

• Business and other directories (eg: Who’s Who in Business)

• Rich lists (eg: BRW in Australia, NBR in NZ)

• National and international news databases

• The internet

• Specialist fundraising publications

• Knowledge held by volunteer fundraising committees

• Information in your own donor databases

There are also two companies in Australasia specialising in research services for fundraisers. Fundraising Research Australasia (FRA) is based in Sydney and run by Charlotte Grimshaw. Saints Information, founded by Louise Parkin, is based in Wellington, NZ, and has capacity to assist with information on Australia, NZ and the UK.

Both these organisations can help with the profiling of existing prospects as well as identifying new ones. FRA’s services also include database screening – running your donor/ prospect list against a list of wealthy Australians to identify potential major donors already in your supporter base.

Building comprehensive donor/prospect profiles enhances a not-for-profit’s ‘live’ relationship with individuals, foundations or companies, and forms the basis for an informed “ask”, including how much to ask for, when to ask and who should do the asking.

Elements of a basic prospect profile

> Name
> Address
> Phone number
> Age
> Marital status
> Family details
> Interests/hobbies
> Estimated wealth
> Career history
> Board positions
> Other charities supported
> Donation history
> Link to your organisation
> Likely interest in supporting your organisation

For more information:

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