Friday, June 22, 2012

The Popsicle Theory of Prospect Research

I love popsicles.

I would say I love popsicles because it’s summer, but I must confess I love them year-round. Orange Dream Bars, Fudgsicles, Dove Bars, Bomb Pops, Peace Pops -- you name it. And don’t even get me started on the Double Caramel Magnum Ice Cream Bar.

How, you may be asking, does this relate to prospect research? Searching for our ideal prospects is like searching for people who love popsicles. It wouldn’t be enough just to search for people who love frozen treats. Who has time to wade through lovers of ice cream, sorbet, ice cream sandwiches, frozen yogurt, and milkshakes, etc.? Likewise, we can’t just focus on people who love food on a stick. We’d have to deal with people who love candy apples, roasted marshmallows, corndogs (pogo dogs for our Canadian friends!), and chicken satay. Our ideal combination is people who love frozen treats and people who love food on a stick. Those are your popsicle lovers.
In prospect research, pursuing wealthy people who don’t care about my mission is a waste of time and money. Likewise, pursuing people who have all the enthusiasm in the world for my mission but not the capacity for a substantial gift is also not a good return on investment. The way to be strategic and to wisely use your limited resources of time, money, and energy is to not be distracted by one or the other. Use the resources at your disposal and your own expertise to focus on people with capacity and inclination. Those are your prospects.

This is a pretty basic concept, but I hope I’ve helped you think about gift capacity and inclination in a new way. At the very least, I’ve made you think about popsicles. 

Mitch Roberson, Communications Director, APRA MidSouth


  1. Nice analogy and venn diagram.

  2. Deborah L DruckerJune 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Great post - but now I want a popsickle!