Role of prospect research in corporate giving


Prospect research is critical in securing corporate & foundation gifts. In every gift I’ve helped secure, I cannot underestimate the effort I’ve invested in  understanding the “giving pulse” of a corporate or foundation entity. Here are some useful takeaways from discussions among prospect researchers and corporate & foundation staff at a recent CASE conference:

  1. Ask intelligent questions. From where did my peer institutions get funding?
  2. What personal connections do we have with the corporation or foundation?
  3. Zero in on who else got what?
  4. Network with peers at similar organizations.
  5. Study the vendor list thoroughly.
  6. Analyze prospects based on institutional priorities, prospect fit and grant amount.
  7. Do not spend too much time on prospect research. If it’s a good fit you will be able to find that out in an hour.
  8. Inform faculty or others seeking funds quickly if your research yields less prospect for funding.
  9. Check giving averages carefully. The mean is tricky, so focus on the typical grant that was given to an organization that was like yours.
  10. Always ask: What problem are you trying to solve? What opportunities are you going to seize?
  11. Do not talk money first, instead focus on the problem and find a solution.
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