Always a popular fundraising research conundrum, this month’s theme on our blog is finding information on international prospects and donors. We kick off the series with a guest post by HBG Research Associate, Kelly Labrecque, who traveled to the UK to bring back some great resources for us to use…
A few weeks ago, while visiting a client in England, I started to think about how challenging it can be to research prospects outside of the United States. If you’re like me, you spend the majority of your time researching prospects in North America. You know exactly where to look to find what you need – addresses, real estate values, stock holdings, philanthropy, etc. But where do you turn when your prospect lives “across the pond,” specifically, in the United Kingdom?
As researchers, our efforts are often hampered when many of our trusted resources, like Lexis Nexis for Development Professionals, are limited to country-specific (i.e. US-only) information. Also, the UK has strict new guidelines governing donor privacy and doesn’t have the same reporting requirements for corporations and foundations.
So what do you do?
For me, I have the benefit of the HBG brain trust from which to draw and all the resources our team has collected over the years to help with international research. I also polled my colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic to come up with the following tips for researching prospects in the UK:
- Use country-specific search engines. Run your prospect’s name and/or company name through search engines like Google UK and Mojeek, which will give you UK-specific results. This is especially important when you don’t have much information with which to work. It can point you in the right direction.
- Review Companies House data. The UK has a central registration authority for all corporations, called Companies House. This information includes company status (dissolved/active), address, nature of business, as well as a list of company directors. I prefer to use Company Check for these searches. It’s very user-friendly and allows you to search for companies by director name – giving you a list of all companies affiliated with your prospect. Note: Company Check offers more in-depth information for a fee.
- Lists! I like to review the Sunday Times Rich List (subscription required). Released annually in April/May, the list ranks the wealthiest men and women in Britain. If you do not have a subscription, The Daily Mirror typically publishes an overview of the list soon after it’s released (2014, 2013). Another great list is Debrett’s 500, which ranks Britain’s 500 most influential people.
- Know where to find foundation information and personal philanthropy. If your prospect has a foundation or is affiliated with one, check Charity Commission. Detailed financial information such as income, assets, and disbursements are included for charities with assets exceeding £500,000. For personal philanthropy, Factary Phi, is a great fee-based resource that aggregates giving data (similar to NOZA in the US).
- Use Zoopla, it’s the UK’s Zillow. If you know your prospect’s address and want to find a market value of their property, Zoopla is your answer! A free, user-friendly search tool that provides you with the estimated value of a property, as well as, area rental values and sales data. You can also use, Mouseprice, a similar product.
If you’d like to learn more about UK prospect research, The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has some great resources provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Also, Researchers in Fundraising (RIF), a special interest group of the Institute of Fundraising, has several discussion listservs for members and non-members alike as well as an active Twitter feed.
I’d love to hear from colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic! How do you research international prospects? What are your favorite resources?