Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Know They Can and Have Given, But Why?

As prospect researchers, we pride ourselves on providing our institutions’ frontline fundraisers with the most accurate and beneficial prospect information that we can unearth.  Sometimes, it becomes easy to cease our research once we have unearthed the impressive real estate values, sky-rocketing stock holdings, or enviable compensation figures.  All of this information is indeed helpful and crucial to development officers as they plan their solicitation strategy; however, a prospect researcher can take one step further in his analysis once an individual is determined to be wealthy and/or philanthropic.  Prospect researchers can offer more substance to the numerical figures that they find by trying to determine what type of major donor an individual has the potential to become.  Determining a donor’s “type” means looking closely at the anecdotal information that surrounds an individual’s giving tendencies.  Does the individual primarily give to causes that have long been supported by his family?  Does the individual appear to give back to institutions from which he benefitted at an earlier time in his life?  Searching for the answers to questions like these can help a prospect researcher more clearly define for a development officer how and why a philanthropically inclined person gives.  Providing more insight into these motivations allows a development officer to more carefully cultivate a relationship with a specific donor through a highly tailored solicitation strategy.
Many books and articles have been written on the “types” of philanthropy.  The two recommended resources below provide in more detail the different motivations and perspectives that philanthropists may have on giving.  By being aware of these giving varieties, a prospect researcher can become a more engaged participant in the development officer’s solicitation strategy. 
The Seven Faces of Philanthropy, by Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File, Jossey-Bass publishing
Synopsis:  Written by two authors heavily involved in the private and global wealth markets, The Seven Faces of Philanthropy argues that by realizing a major donor’s foundational philanthropic perspective, a fundraiser can more effectively build a relationship with a prospect.  Each perspective is broken into seven “types,” and explained in the book.

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