Are any of the Forbes 400 billionaires on your radar?

I always find it interesting to see who ends up on lists like the Forbes 400 (even though this list is from 2018). An email recently made its way to my inbox that eight New Jersey billionaires made the Forbes list, and I thought “I wonder how many of these names are on the radar of local nonprofits?”

As a researcher, I love seeing this info; but at the same time, I cringe when I think about what it often means when fundraisers are blinded by the $$$. Just because an individual has the means to give, doesn’t mean they are the right prospect for your organization.

Instead of focusing on the dollar signs, think about the individual as a whole and what their priorities and philanthropic interests are. If it fits within your organization’s mission and you are lucky enough to have a connection to a billionaire, by all means go for it! But otherwise, take a step back from the dream and focus on the reality of prospects who are ready and willing to give to your incredible mission!

Need help in identifying the best prospects for your organization? I can help – your database and organization’s connections are a goldmine! Reach me at!

It’s event season – where’s your research?

Spring has historically been a heavy event season for the nonprofit world. There’s nothing like the (almost…) smell of green grass and (almost…) warmth of the sun to get your patrons in the mood to buy tickets and contribute to your gala.

That’s why this recent article from AFP about how prospect research can boost your fundraising events was so timely. Take a look at the five ways that Sarah Tedesco, executive vice president of DonorSearch, describes how research can and will provide incredible benefits for your event.

I always recommend researching attendees prior to an event – there’s no downside to knowing more about the people who will be walking through the doors on your big night. Yes, research takes time but the investment is worth it. If you need an extra set of hands to compile this valuable information for your organization, reach me at! I’m happy to chat about the ways we can work together to ensure your next big event is a huge success.

A great read about communicating with generations

Recently in Patterns of Patronage, the course I teach at the University of Delaware, we have been discussing characteristics of the different generations and how to best communicate with, market to, and solicit these individuals. Coincidentally, I received an email from AFP with this excellent article about communication with the five different generations:

Not My Generation! How to Communicate with Sensitivity.

I look forward to sharing this with my class and wanted to make sure you had the opportunity to read as well! Enjoy!

Research isn’t just for individuals

I realized recently that a majority of my research topics are often about finding and developing relationships with individual donors. But, research isn’t just for individuals – it can be equally as helpful for your foundation and corporate relations goals.

Think about it, one of the key aspects to securing foundation grants is through building relationships with the funder. There’s little chance of sending in a letter of intent or grant application to a foundation that has never given to your organization and in return, actually receiving a favorable reply.

So how can investing in foundation research help your organization? It can save you TIME and MONEY. Your organization will no longer be blindly searching for new opportunities, spending time preparing full-length grant applications and sending in unsolicited requests only to be turned down.

It can help you find connections between your organization and the prospective foundation funder through trustees and staff with known relationships. Having a personal or professional connection is a much more promising first step to securing that new partnership.

It can provide analysis of the foundation’s grantmaking activities to conclude whether what they SAY they fund is what they ACTUALLY fund. Say a foundation’s website states that they fund education, access to healthcare and animal welfare; but after analysis of recent years’ grants, you may find that 90% of their giving actually goes to making healthcare accessible. How likely would you be to get a grant if your organization was an animal shelter or a school? Not very.

It can show you what percentage of grants each year are awarded to NEW organizations (aka organizations like yours who have never been funded by this foundation before). How great would it be to know before spending two weeks crafting the perfect proposal that the foundation only awards 2% of its annual grants to organizations not previously funded?

It can also help you narrow down a list of prospective foundation funders to those that most closely match your organization’s mission and the programs you are looking to fund. And research also guides you to ask for the right dollar amount for the right program. After analyzing past grants, you will see the average amounts given for the type of program for which you are requesting funds. You will know you aren’t leaving money on the table or asking too much of a foundation.

Next time you and your colleagues are considering how to streamline your foundation relations department to improve ROI and efficiency, make sure to discuss the importance of research! And if you are in a pinch and need an extra hand, I am always here to help!