Web Search Strategies: Traits of Great Researchers

DNAHow do you know if there’s researcher potential within you? Nearly every time someone interviews me about prospect research, they ask me “what are the key components of a great prospect researcher?” Here is where I start:

  1. Natural curiosity
  2. Tenacity, paired with…
  3. The ability to know when to stop

These, I think are the top three. The first, natural curiosity, I like to describe in this way: [Read more...]

The Boys of Summer

Back View of Baseball Player

For some folks it’s Gershwin’s “Summertime” performed by the incomparable Ella. For others it’s James Taylor’s “Summer’s Here.”

For me, it’s always been “The Boys of Summer.” From the opening beats and guitar riffs, I’m instantly sucked back to a hot cloudless day driving in a Mustang by the ocean singing with my friend and Don Henley at the tops of our voices. Don was unable to physically make that gig, but let me tell you, he missed a good one.

I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun. You’ve got your hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby.

What pulls you instantly back to summer when red and gold leaves, or snowflakes, are falling? Is it a song? A scent? A flavor? [Read more...]

Effective Web Searching – social media search tips

Are you including social media searching as part of your prospect research?

Today’s blog post is a slide show featuring some tips and tricks for getting the most out of searching Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Make sure to turn your speakers up if you’re solo (or plug in your headphones) and click on the little speaker in the center of each slide to listen to the audio.

Let me know if you have found other ways to search these great resources!

Having trouble viewing the presentation in this window? Go here:http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/HelenBrownGroup-2204575-searching-social-media-helen-brown-group/

iPad and iDevice users: I’m sorry – The audio may not work for you. It’s a Flash thing, apparently. Come back later and view this post on a laptop or desktop.

The Field Guide to Efficient Searching

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? Here are my top five tips for efficient web searching.

Tip #1: Use Quotation Marks

Bing Council on Foreign Relations

If you want to get the best results for an exact name or phrase, always put your search string in quotes. This works really well for names, for example, of a person or an organization.

Searching on Bing for Council on Foreign Relations got me 18,700,000 hits. Searching for “Council on Foreign Relations” narrowed down the hit count to a mere two million.

This might not matter when you’re searching for something like the COFR, but what if you’re looking for a name? [Read more...]

Web search overview: Three Key Things Everyone Needs to Know

farm gate

Web searching can be a lot like hiking. Sometimes it’s a pristine path along the coast with stunning views over the channel, other times it’s a bracken-laden jungle where you can’t even see your feet. I’ve been on both kinds of paths, and I much prefer the former. [Read more...]

Search Strategies – The hunt begins


I admit that sometimes I cringe a little bit when I watch [some] other people search.

Not all people, mind you. Not professional (and natural-born) researchers. I actually love seeing how they search differently than me – the terms they use and how they use search engines and deep-web sources. I always learn something. It’s fun to share techniques and watch them get from point A to point B efficiently. [Read more...]

Looking Homeward

Old SouthI went back to the place where I got my first job in fundraising last weekend. Luckily for me, it was also my alma mater.

My college degree was in English Literature and I just loved researching and writing papers. But after I graduated from Carolina I took a job with a catering company that provided low-cal meals for a clinical diet and fitness center. (To this day, I can remember how many calories are in a third of a cup of corn…half an apple…a piece of pita…)

At 22, I was still trying to work out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and since I’d been a waitress and sous-chef to help pay for college, catering worked while I figured things out. [Read more...]

The Fair, the handwriting analysis booth, and relationship management

Handwriting analysisWhen I was a kid, we went to the Bloomsburg Fair every year, rain or shine. The Fair has been a magical place for generations of kids (no matter their age) and a place of hope as well. It’s been held in late September since 1855, and hundreds of thousands of people come every year for miles around, making it the biggest fair in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

It’s an agricultural/exhibit fair, and my mom tells me that during the Great Depression, many folks relied (some fairly desperately) on winning cash prizes for things they grew, bottled, jarred, knitted, sewed and showed at the Fair. Slightly more recently, the Bloomsburg Fair was the place where Taylor Swift made her concert debut. So I suppose it’s always been a place where dreams (and money) are made.

Every year as we [Read more...]

Ratings: What happens when you drop a prospect status ball

prospect management processKeeping track of one or two major gift prospects isn’t too difficult, but when there are scores of donors you need a system to make sure that no one gets forgotten.

Imagine your horror to discover that a loyal donor [Read more...]

Ratings – Measuring inclination

Dirt Bikers Giving High Five During JumpIn fundraising when we are trying to measure how close a prospective donor feels to our organization or cause we call it their inclination to give (or to be involved as a volunteer). Sometimes it’s also described as a prospective donor’s affinity or interest.

[Read more...]