Donor research is a process of gathering information about potential donors or supporters to better understand their background, interests, philanthropic activities, and capacity to contribute. Effective donor research can help nonprofit organizations identify and engage with individuals or institutions who are most likely to support their cause. Here are some steps to conduct donor research:
Define your objectives
Clearly define your organization’s goals and fundraising needs. Determine what information you need to collect about potential donors and how it will help you in your fundraising efforts.
Identify your target audience
Determine the specific characteristics and criteria of the donors you want to research. This may include factors such as past giving history, interests, demographics, and affiliations.
Utilize internal data
Start by examining your existing donor database and records. Analyze past giving patterns, donation history, and any available data on your current donors. This will help you identify potential prospects and also provide insights into their giving capacity.
Conduct online research
Utilize various online sources to gather information about potential donors. This may involve searching for news articles, social media profiles, personal websites, and professional biographies. Look for any indications of philanthropic interests, connections to causes related to your organization, or past charitable contributions.
Use wealth screening tools
Wealth screening tools or databases can provide valuable information about an individual’s financial capacity and assets. These tools can help you identify potential major donors or individuals with the ability to make significant contributions.
Research professional affiliations
Investigate professional networks, associations, or clubs that potential donors may be a part of. These affiliations can provide insights into their interests, connections, and potential willingness to support causes aligned with those networks.
Explore philanthropic history
Look for any past charitable giving by potential donors. This information can indicate their interest in philanthropy and provide insights into the causes they have supported previously.
Network and seek referrals
Leverage your existing network and connections to gain insights into potential donors. Reach out to board members, volunteers, staff, and other supporters to gather information or seek referrals to individuals who may be interested in your cause.
Maintain a comprehensive donor profile
Organize and consolidate the information you gather into a centralized donor profile or database. This profile should include relevant details such as contact information, giving history, philanthropic interests, and any other pertinent data that can help tailor your approach.
Respect privacy and data protection
It is essential to adhere to privacy regulations and ethical practices when conducting donor research. Respect the privacy of individuals and ensure that the information you gather is used responsibly and securely.
Remember that donor research is an ongoing process, and information about individuals may change over time. Continuously update and refine your donor profiles to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date information for effective fundraising and donor engagement.