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Prospect Research and Crowdfunding: 8 Ways To Get Ready For Your Next Campaign

Guest Post by Sarah Tedesco from DonorSearch.

Using information from 25 databases, DonorSearch uses proprietary algorithms to help clients find the best philanthropic prospects. DonorSearch’s data can be easily integrated with most common donor management and general sales software, putting critical donor information at a client’s fingertips.

Let’s hear about prospect research from Sarah:

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What exactly is prospect research?

Survey says:

Prospect research is a method used by nonprofits and other fundraising organizations to educate themselves about their donors and prospects.

What kind of information does prospect research uncover?

A screening can reveal a whole list of indicative donor traits, including:

  • Past giving to your nonprofit and other organizations
  • Real estate ownership
  • Political giving
  • Personal information
  • Stock ownership
  • Business ties
  • And more!

What does all of this data tell a nonprofit?

donor search

The overarching goal of a prospect screening is to determine the two main factors that contribute to a prospect’s likelihood of making a contribution.

  1. Does this prospect have an interest in contributing a gift to our organization?
  2. Can this prospect feasibly give the gift that he or she is interested in giving?

Between those two factors, your organization is far better equipped to decide the best plan of action when it comes to choosing whether or not to pursue a prospect.

Okay. So what does this have to do with crowdfunding?

Traditionally speaking, prospect research’s closest tie is to major giving. By examining a combination of wealth and philanthropic markers, your organization’s major gift officers know exactly which high-quality leads are most likely to convert to major donors.

It’s a great system. But just because prospect research is valuable in one area of fundraising doesn’t mean that it can’t be a huge help elsewhere.

Enter crowdfunding (In case you missed it, CauseVox has an excellent resource on starting a crowdfunding campaign that you should check out to learn more!).

Getting ready for a crowdfunding campaign involves thinking in the short term as well as the long term. You need to be prepared to successfully handle the fundraiser from start to finish.

Prospect research helps with both ends of the spectrum.

That’s what we’ll be talking about here.

We’ve compiled eight ways your organization can use prospect research to organize a more effective crowdfunding campaign.

To make things easy to follow, we’ve broken our list of eight tactics into two groups of four: before and after.

Before:

#1: Find your social influencers.
#2: Fill in blanks in basic details.
#3: Discover valuable relationships.
#4: Learn your donor’s giving patterns.

After:

#5: Make plans for follow-up.
#6: Look for upgrade opportunities.
#7: Segment your new list of donors.
#8: Offer other engagement opportunities.

Feel free to skip ahead to any sections that most appeal to you.

Before Your Crowdfunding Campaign

#1: Find your social influencers.

One of the most important features of any successful crowdfunding campaign is its ability to organically spread through your donors’ social networks.

And that success starts with strategic sharing. You want to put your campaign’s promotion in the hands of your most effective prospects.

Prospect research can help you determine exactly who those folks are.

By combining an examination of your supporters’ behavior on social media and the level of commitment those supporters have to your organization, you can evaluate who the ideal social influencers are for your crowdfunding campaign.

Learn more about social shareability and crowdfunding here!

#2: Fill in the blanks in basic details.

As we just established, your campaign is going to use your support network to expand to newer prospects.

While you prepare to send out your campaign’s promotional materials and work to get your donor pool on board, one thing is for sure: you want to make sure you’re reaching them and connecting with them in the way they want to be connected with.

Prospect screening is known for its close analysis of your donors against such databases as the:

Examination against those databases is extremely helpful, but don’t underestimate the importance of something as simple as having accurate and up-to-date contact details.

These key contact details include:

    • Full name
    • Spousal information
    • Email address
    • Home address
    • Preferred phone number
    • Date of birth

You don’t want to be missing such foundational donor information as you begin your campaign outreach.

#3: Discover valuable relationships.

As part of your push to share your campaign with as many people as possible and truly get the word out, make sure you’re taking advantage of valuable connections right at your fingertips.

With the help of prospect research, you can uncover significant personal and professional affiliations that your campaign could leverage to reach new audiences.

Beyond leveraging the connections, it never hurts to understand your constituents’ ties within the community. The benefits are vast.

For instance, you might realize that a group of your supporters works for a company that matches donations. If you take the extra time to encourage those supporters and their coworkers to join in on your campaigns, their fundraising could go twice as far.

According to a statistic from Double the Donation, “91% of companies match donations at a 1:1 ratio.”

Think of the possibilities if you can find those connections, and connections like them, and effectively promote the opportunities.

#4: Learn your donor’s giving patterns.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of prospect research is its ability to help you gauge donor giving patterns.

Past giving is the greatest indicator of future giving, no matter the type of giving.

More specifically, if you can pinpoint the kind of giving your donors are interested in, you can use that knowledge to cater your asks.

It’s the kind of data you want in your back pocket for any kind of fundraising endeavor, crowdfunding campaigns included.

After Your Crowdfunding Campaign

#5: Make plans for follow-up.

So your campaign has just wrapped up and you have a whole selection of brand new supporters in your donor pool.

That’s great!

The make or break moment is how you deal with all this new donor information. Especially if you’ve successfully executed a three-tiered crowdfunding campaign, you’re bound to have quite the influx of new donors.

Step one (after you acknowledge them, of course) should be screening that new batch of donors.

If you want to know how to best to handle any sort of follow up, don’t go in unprepared! Enter your stewardship confident in the knowledge that you’ve acquired through a screening.

#6: Look for upgrade opportunities.

One area that you’ll certainly want to focus your attention during follow-ups is in how you can possibly upgrade your newfound donors.

By analyzing the wealth and philanthropic histories of those recently minted donors, you can determine what type of giving would be the ideal next path for them.

That giving level might be anything from:

  • Major giving
  • Planned giving
  • Annual fund
  • Mid-level
  • Small gift

The bottom line is, when you pivot to start asking your crowdfunding contributors for another round of donations, you want to be lining your fundraisers up for success.

major gifts

They should have the benefit of an accurate estimation of where these new donors fall within the giving pyramid.

#7: Segment your new list of donors.

Once you’ve determined giving level, you can segment your donors accordingly.

How does segmentation help?

It can give donors the sense of a personalized approach without your team having to sacrifice copious amounts of time and resources in curating that custom approach.

Without donor segmentation, you have two main options:

  1. A highly customized, but highly time-consuming approach to stewardship.
  2. A broad, less personalized approach to stewardship.

Where’s the happy medium? With segmentation!

Using the information gathered about your donors during a prospect screening, you can sort your donors into groups of similar giving interest and ability. Then, you can customize a plan for each segment.

One group might be far more reachable on social media, whereas one group might require the personal attention of a development officer.

The better you segment, the more confident your fundraisers can be in their cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship practices.

You and your donors get the best of both worlds.

#8: Offer other engagement opportunities.

Our final point to round out this list of eight is a simple but necessary one.

When we think about next steps after someone has contributed to your crowdfunding campaign, it shouldn’t all be about the next round of donations. Rather, your next steps should be about finding meaningful ways of engaging your crowdfunding participants.

That engagement could mean a lot of things, such as:

Increase the chances that the engagement opportunities you’re offering align with donor interest by studying your screening results.

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At the end of the day, anyone who has coordinated a crowdfunding campaign understands that you have to be able to juggle a lot at once. Take a little off your team’s hands by properly implementing prospect research.

As you head into your next campaign, map out how you’d like to incorporate prospect research into your upcoming crowdfunding endeavors.

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