This week, let’s break down the different pieces to a prospect research profile. If you need to create one yourself and have never completed prospect research before, here’s an outline to get you started and guide you through the process of piecing together a profile.
The Prospect Profile
- NAME: Always include the full name (including any honorific titles or suffixes), address and contact information in the beginning. I know, duh, right? Well, having the full name with any distinguishing titles or suffixes is a quick reminder to the reader using the profile. Format is up to you, but I like to use this information as a header.
- PHOTO: If you can find it, include a photo. It’s great to put a face to a name – especially if this is a new guest at an event.
- CONNECTION TO YOUR ORGANIZATION: Use this section to outline how this individual is connected to your organization, why you are researching this person and any giving history to your organization. Perhaps a trustee gave you the name or you found it through your own data-mining – either way, make note of it.
- BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: This section can include age, birth date, where they reside, spouse name, children’s names, and any other information that is personal in nature (such as lifestyle indicators, interests or hobbies).
- EDUCATION: This one is self-explanatory. Include as much detail as you can find about each degree, major, graduation date and college or university. High school information can also be important because it may link the prospect back to a trustee’s hometown or even your own!
- NONPROFIT AFFILIATIONS: List past and present affiliations to other organizations, whether board members or volunteers. This section is great for finding common links between your prospect and others. Maybe you will see patterns such as the individual being heavily involved in healthcare. This can get tedious but it’s so important!
- HONORS AND AWARDS: List any recognition the individual has received. These could be honoree of a gala, listing in the top lawyers of the state report, volunteer award, or any other way the prospect has been recognized. Tip: It’s a great ice-breaker or way to (re)open communication if you find a recent award for which the development officer can congratulate their prospect!
- PROFESSION: Here, include the title, name of the company and contact information of the company of the individuals current position. Also include either as bullet points or as a narrative, a (complete as possible) career history. Another feature to this section, which could also be one of its own, is a list of current and past corporate or professional boards (e.g. trade associations, companies, etc.). Here is where you can find some great connections. You can always note connections to your board in this section.
- REAL ESTATE: This is where the wealth estimates come in. Include all real estate owned by the individual and follow your organization’s policy for joint ownership, sole proprietor business owners, and spouse ownership. I like to include the address, date of purchase and price, mortgage information (if available), taxes and an estimated value.
- SALARY: This can be tricky. Some salaries are public – such as those who are insiders of public companies – and others are not. If all else fails, you can list an estimate in the field, as long as it is noted as such.
- STOCK HOLDINGS: Make sure to include the name, amount and value as of the day you are evaluating. Stock prices can change rapidly, so the date of the valuation is very important.
- OTHER WEALTH INDICATORS: Anything that sticks out that doesn’t fit into another category, include here. Maybe the prospect has a really expensive hobby or has a private jet. This can be a fun section if you find the information.
- NET WORTH ESTIMATE: This is the number everyone is looking for. Include a range based on the wealth indicators you found and your organization’s policy for rating. Include your rationale for coming to these conclusions.
- FOUNDATION AFFILIATIONS: Is your prospect the president of a family foundation or a trustee for a large grant-maker? Include the information here about the organization, assets and types of grants they provide.
- PUBLIC GIVING HISTORY: Here, include all giving history you can find for donations given to organizations other than your own. This helps to determine if an individual gives to a certain type of organization (which may or may not be a fit for your organization) and how much.
- PROPENSITY: Summarize an estimated amount and type of gift the prospect could make, based on your entire report findings.
- AFFINITY: Summarize the likelihood to give to YOUR organization and for what, based on what you found in your research.
- SOURCES: And last but not least, include a list of the sources you used to create your prospect profile (e.g. databases, website links, news articles).
Well, there you have it – all of the aspects that I like to include in a full prospect profile. Is it a little overwhelming? Maybe you don’t need THAT much detail? Feel free to create a template that works for your organization and fits your needs.
If you could use a hand in creating your own template, learning how to locate the information noted above, or just want someone to do the research for you, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!