Monday, April 28, 2014

Using your Human Resources

How many of us prospect researchers believe we’ve finished the profile and that we’ve researched and found all the information “out there” to have a full view of this prospect – then find out there is a big piece of the puzzle missing: their mother is sick, and the prospect is paying the hospice bills, or they’re in debt, they’re paying alimony, etc.?

We realize that there is only so much information available on the World Wide Web or in wealth screening software. Is the profile ever really complete without using your human resources to add their perspective? Let me clarify: When I mention human resources, I do not mean the personnel department at your institution, I mean your people resources: your staff, your major gift officers, your board members, your executive director, your volunteer leadership – the folks that actually sit down with the prospect during cultivation visits.
I presented at a workshop on prospect research last week, and a question was raised: How do you engage your people resources to create a more complete profile? This question created a great brainstorming session, and several suggestions bubbled to the surface. The below suggestions on how to better communicate came from not only prospect researchers but development personnel as well.

1. Software Journal Notes: Use them! Ask staff and MGOs to update the software system with pertinent information that they learn on their site visits.
2. Contact Reports: Ideally, this information will be uploaded in the software, but if not, ask MGOs to provide complete, detailed information. Review their contact report and make sure it includes all the information you’re looking for.
3. Bi-weekly Calls or Meetings: Have a set call every other week with the MGOs to discuss upcoming visits and past visit outcomes.
4. Stress Importance:  Continue to communicate to development personnel the importance of their feedback and knowledge. They may be surprised that what they know or don’t know will help guide your research.

At the end of the workshop, it was agreed that a full profile of a prospect cannot be completed without the people resources. Their insider knowledge and understanding of the prospect is vital to forming a complete profile. Be sure to use them!

This post was written by Margaret T. Johnson, Director of Client Services at Capital Development Services.

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