Five Simple Strategies for Using Prospect Research to Improve Fundraising Results

Five Simple Strategies for Using Prospect Research to Improve Fundraising Results

strategies prospect research

strategies prospect researchJacqueline Cameron, Consultant and Research Manager at AskRIGHT, highlights the power of using effective prospect research to improve fundraising success, in both the short and long term. She shares five research strategies that will help busy fundraisers not to overlook this crucial step.


Much of what is done before soliciting a charitable gift is prospect research.[i] Unfortunately, fundraisers are often busy with many other important tasks and prospect research can easily slip to the bottom of the list. But if you want great fundraising results, it shouldn’t. Prospect research is essential for successful fundraising.

Successful fundraising has been defined as “The right person asking the right prospect for the right gift at the right time in the right way.” Prospect research can provide you with this information.


These five simple steps will help you identify prospects and improve your fundraising results through prospect research:

1. Maximise your most valuable asset: your donor database

The data in your donor database is one of your organisation’s most valuable assets. It tells an important story: the history of your organisation’s relationship with its donors. In your database, you can find:

– donors who have been faithful givers over many years and have the potential for greater giving but may not have been considered for further cultivation,

– donors who have lapsed and could be reengaged,

– donors who may be high-net-worth individuals or the directors of trusts who you are unaware of,

– trends in your donors giving that can be used to help you tailor approaches.


Often, this information goes untapped. If you want to start adding qualified prospects to your pipeline, your donor database is the place to go.


Tips to maximise your donor database

Analyse Your Information

You can use simple Excel functions to conduct basic analysis on your database to assist with the identification of donors for further cultivation and other information.

If you don’t have time or resources for this, we can help you automate this process with our Data Analysis & Value Development service. Click here to learn more about AskRIGHT donor data analysis and value development service.


Consider Database Screening

Do you have high-net-worth individuals or directors of trusts in your database that you’re not aware of? Database or wealth screening can be a simple and cost-effective way to identify them.

Our database, the Wealth and Philanthropy Register™, includes the details of all Private Ancillary Fund directors in Australia. From $400, organisations can identify any PAF directors on their database, as well as other important matches such as public company directors, rich listers, notable private company directors and philanthropists, etc.  Click here to learn more about AskRIGHT wealth screening service.


2. Be a nosey neighbour: find new donors in the media and new publications

Keep abreast of who is speaking out in the media about your cause, who has a personal experience with the issue, and who is donating to organisations similar to your own. They may be a future prospective donor for you.

Tips and Sources to find new potential donors:

Identifying keywords is your first important step. You can then maximise your research time by using Google Alerts (see details below in #3) and advanced search functions (#4).

Annual reports are also a good resource for identifying donors to similar organisations.

You can use external resources allow you to search by keywords, area funded, geography, etc., such as:

Philanthropy Australia’s Directory of Funders

Our Community’s Funding Centre

– the AskRIGHT Complete Guide to Australia’s Private Ancillary Funds, which provides details of giving by all Private Ancillary Funds, as well as contact details and information on directors, in Australia.


3. Be alert by setting up Google Alerts on new and current prospects

Google Alerts can help you identify both new prospects and give you the information you need on current prospects.

Visit to set up Google Alerts on:

– the names of your current prospects

– relevant keywords

– the names of organisations similar to your own, to receive information on prospective donors giving to your area that you may not be aware of.


4. Search like a pro with Google Advanced Search Functions

The Internet means that we now have a sea of information available to us, however not all information is relevant. Working through that information can take time we don’t have. Google Advanced Search can help you narrow down your search results and maximise your time.

For more information, read our 6 Tips for Effective Prospect Research on Google


5. Be organised with the information you collect on prospects

Develop a central repository for your information and templates for prospect profiles.

You can also set up a dedicated section in your database for research. This will help you maximise your time and ensure the information is on-hand when needed.



Do you need help with your prospect research? We can help you improve your fundraising research and your overall fundraising process.



Jacqueline Cameron

Jacqueline Cameron

Consultant & Research Manager at AskRIGHT
Jacqueline is a dedicated, motivated and results oriented fundraising professional. She enjoys the variety in fundraising, and brings broad experience to clients on all aspects: from identifying prospects to liaising with donors, advising on collateral, writing case statements and bequest brochures, data mining and analytics, and developing fundraising strategies.

To find out how Jacqueline can help your organisation, email
Jacqueline Cameron


[i] Cecilia Hogan, Prospect Research: A Primer for Growing Non-Profits. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2004. P. 21.

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