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:
- Ask intelligent questions. From where did my peer institutions get funding?
- What personal connections do we have with the corporation or foundation?
- Zero in on who else got what?
- Network with peers at similar organizations.
- Study the vendor list thoroughly.
- Analyze prospects based on institutional priorities, prospect fit and grant amount.
- 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.
- Inform faculty or others seeking funds quickly if your research yields less prospect for funding.
- Check giving averages carefully. The mean is tricky, so focus on the typical grant that was given to an organization that was like yours.
- Always ask: What problem are you trying to solve? What opportunities are you going to seize?
- Do not talk money first, instead focus on the problem and find a solution.
The new buzzwords in philanthropy are: austerity, lean, collaboration, best practices, mergers, partnerships. And, the most used word? Creativity.
A panel of business and nonprofit leaders gave out these buzzwords at a Nonprofit Business Summit hosted by the Phoenix Business Journal earlier today. They repeated creativity often that it meant how you can adapt, be flexible and cut costs.
Businesses warned about the death of checkbook philanthropy as they face increasing pressure from employee groups to provide meaningful community engagement opportunities. The reality is, businesses need nonprofits more than ever. For example, St. Vincent de Paul now provides a Saturday family volunteer opportunity for US Airways employees so that they can bring in their family to volunteer at the nonprofits facilities. This Saturday morning volunteer encounter is now a national model of meaningful nonprofit-business partnerships.
More employees want to get a clear understanding about the mission of nonprofit organizations before directing their funds. This is forcing community relations managers to get a better grasp of the nonprofit world.
In terms of creativity, a recent project involved Cox Communications partnering with Barrett Jackson to auction a car. The proceeds then went to Make a Wish Foundation. This is creative philanthropy in action as multiple entities join together to help a worthy cause. With their charitable budget staying flat for the last decade, the company has used creative ways to generate larger funding for Cox Charities.