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.

Five tips on getting corporate gifts

Here are five tips I learned from national corporate & foundation development officers at a CASE conference in New York:

  1. Make sure that you project aligns with priorities of the corporation. They are looking for a return on investment.
  2. Offer engagement opportunities, specifically volunteer opportunities for corporate staff.
  3. Collaborative projects are attractive. Corporations want to know that your project is attractive to multiple funders.
  4. Community-focused projects that serve certain causes and segments of population are in demand for corporate funding.
  5. Develop a culture of philanthropy within your organization. Make sure that leadership has the buy-in.