Researching your Donors

You have defined a major gift.

You have profiled who is giving your major gifts.

You want to target those individuals.

First you have to research them.

Before making that first phone call, or that first point of contact, it helps to know some things about them.

But how do you do that?

Start with Google, the greatest of search engines.  Hopefully there will be some information on the web, be it articles, a profile on Facebook, information on Wikipedia.  Hopefully there is information about their work and jobs. Perhaps you find information about their home and real estate on BlockShopper.  Perhaps there is information about their political giving on Politcal Giving or Huffington Post. Whatever you can find on the web, confirm that it is in fact that individual, and then save that information.

If there is nothing on Google, then you might have to use personal sources.  Are there any connections to the individual? Do Board Members know them? Do they work with a friend of yours?  Anything at all?

Of course, there are paid services to help you in a wealth search. Wealth Engine is one of the better tools for researching individuals personal wealth. Lexis Nexis is important as well.

Is this considered stalking, you may ask.  I believe this is where the ethics of fundraising come into play.  It is okay to research an individual and find information on them. What you do with that information, however, better be kept secure and private.  Do not trade information.

As always, apply the Golden Rule.

And when all else fails, just pick up the phone and call them.

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