This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Prospecting For The Endgame: Week 1

Prospecting for the Endgame: Week 1
As you may know from reading a previous blog of mine, I’m a bit of a Marvel fan. With Captain Marvel debuting and Avengers: Endgame around the corner, I thought I’d use characters from the Marvel Universe as a prospect pool to help people better understand the role of a prospect researcher. I’ll be putting out a blog each week until Endgame so make sure to check back as my research unfolds! MARVEL SPOILERS FOLLOW

Understand your Goal and Resources
First, I had to understand my goal and determine how many prospects I had in my portfolio. My goal was to figure out who to prioritize as potential major donors, who would be better to gear toward other forms of support, and who could be deprioritized.
In my portfolio, I came up with about 30 prospects:
Thanos Black Panther Bucky Barnes Drax the Destroyer Star-Lord Loki
Peter Parker Black Widow Nebula Tony Stark Shuri Phil Coulson
Capt. America Vision War Machine Thor Nick Fury Pepper Potts
Bruce Banner Groot Mantis Doctor Strange Capt. Marvel Ant Man
Wanda Maximoff Gamora Rocket Racoon Okoye Sam Wilson  

I know for many prospect researchers a portfolio of 30 is low. Portfolios come in all sizes. The number of prospects you are researching greatly impacts the amount of time that you can devote to each one (and the amount of information you can glean). How many prospects does your team manage?  

Know your Data
As with most datasets, I only had so much information to work from. Like most research, the available information could only get me so far. Tony Stark’s assets are pretty public, and he’s not exactly shy about showing off, but I can only imagine what a challenge it would be to do prospect research on the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.. For those falling in between, I wanted to be reasonable about what a researcher would be able to figure out. Most assets aren’t public, which limits assessment, and there are a lot of rules about how what’s found should be used.

Two other factors were time and misinformation. Investigating a prospect shouldn’t take a researcher a huge amount of time, and I’m a self-confessed data addict. I always set a timer before I start digging in. Since I’m trying to research on the characters of specific movies, a lot of my knowledge on them is based on a personal history of being a geek. Any personal knowledge needed to be vetted, just like the rumored wealth of a real individual. 

I’m sure there are plenty of fans who are ready to comment and tell me that my list is inaccurate by about 50%. I guess there might be a screening or two I need to run. Most organizations’ data needs a lot of work! You need to be sure what you have is accurate and clean up what can be addressed. What steps are you and your team taking to make your data cleaner and more actionable?

Join us Next Week…
Like with most research—what gets uncovered will hopefully lead to more information, but all that information will probably lead to even more questions (just like most Marvel movies)! Fun might not be something one considers when prospecting the fate of your social good organization, but I hope this does put a smile on your face (and help you understand prospect research a bit more). See you next week on the continuing saga of our prospect research hero.

While you are waiting, check out some of other episodes, I mean workshops, such as the OBP: Fundraising—Major Giving class.
Posted by Matt Connell on Mar 13, 2019 3:00 PM America/New_York

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Thanks Matt! Fun blog with some great information! 
  • Posted Wed 13 Mar 2019 03:06 PM EDT
I'm also looking forward to the last installment of the Avengers movies! Great blog, Matt
  • Posted Wed 13 Mar 2019 03:35 PM EDT
Love the tip about setting a timer to research data.  I am borrowing from your brilliance and trying that tip!
  • Posted Wed 13 Mar 2019 03:57 PM EDT
Thanks, Matt.  Love the Avengers theme.  I use Game of Thrones when we do examples! And thank you for the great tip about the timer, I'll have to use that one so I don't go down the rabbit hole.
  • Posted Thu 14 Mar 2019 10:52 AM EDT
This is awesome! Very excited for the upcoming content
  • Posted Thu 14 Mar 2019 11:55 AM EDT
Love this! 
  • Posted Mon 18 Mar 2019 12:09 PM EDT