Recently, we began assisting a new inner-city Episcopal school in Denver. The leaders of this school are constantly meeting new people of wealth, but they don’t know the tips and tricks in which to cultivate and solicit these individuals to become financial contributors to the school. This is where prospect research expertise comes into the picture.

Prospect research is the systematic analysis of data about donors and prospects that is used to provide information to help engage the person in a meaningful conversation about their potential gift. Almost all of the larger non-profits that have reached an institutional phase of their development and have multiple fundraising staff know the basic elements of prospect research and where to go for information. It is the grassroots and mid- sized organizations that usually don’t have the foggiest idea of where to look. It is for these smaller groups that we are writing this week ‘s Rich Tips.

The following is a list of key Web sites that will help you cull basic information about prospects and donors. Remember, you always want to use the information you gather with the utmost discretion.

Tax Assessors Database — This Web site gathers property data from all 50 states. You can access addresses and home values for prospects by zip codes.

Free Zip Code Lookup — A very cool site that gives you generalized demographic information of residents within a zip code AND compares it to national averages.

Follow the Money — Information about contributions to state politics.

Lawyer Locator — Looking for a bio on an attorney? Check out this site.

Ziggs People Search for Professionals — Professional bios and information on corporate contacts.

Vault’s Company Research — A quick way to learn about a specific company’s culture and industry. Provides links to recent and related newspaper articles.

The Forbes 400
— The list of the 400 richest Americans.

The Most Charitable Companies — Lists the most generous corporations. Take a look to see if the companies you shop at are among the most philanthropic.

Zoom Info — This site spiders out and grabs information about people from the Web then displays it for you in an easy to read format. It’s a great free way to learn about individuals and their outside commitments – business or leisure.

Birth Database — Want to know someone’s birthday? This site allows you to do just that.

FAA Registry
— Get more information on a donor’s aircraft – lear jet or 1972 Cessna?

AND if you’re willing to pay . . . check out

Donor Series — A compendium of individual contributions information.

KnowX — Lists information on people and personal assets, affiliations with companies, and who the key players are at various corporations.

About the Author: Richard Male is a recognized leader in the fields of leadership development, fundraising, community organizing and public policy for non-profit organizations, faith-based entities, private foundations local municipalities and schools.

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Posted on 20 February 2006

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