It’s that moment when you realize that you have spent (1) way too much time to (2) find a piece of information that you firmly believe must be out there – hiding. Behind some paywall. And now your report is sitting there. Unfinished.
It’s Prospect Research FOMO. Fear of Missing infO*.
It’s frustrating, disheartening, and maddening to have wasted time and feel that, at the end of the day, you just couldn’t make the Boolean logic deliver.
Especially when everything is online, right?
(Well, it’s really not, but that’s a different blog post).
Here’s what to do
Assuming that you’ve exhausted your arsenal of resources already and you’re starting to feel Researcher’s Guilt creeping up on you some afternoon, go through these steps:
- Ask yourself if this piece of information is really Need-to-Know or just Nice-to-Know. If you’re simply working to satisfy your own curiosity, quit now. The next profile you work on could be the person who makes the transformational gift, so you can’t afford to waste time. Move on.
- If it’s something that a fundraiser has specifically asked you to find, ask them now (rather than agonizing for another 3 hours) if it’s Need-to-Know or Nice-to-Know. If it’s important, then:
- Make sure you’re not missing out on any resources that are available to you. (Try here to be sure).
- Run your research conundrum by someone in your office or phone a research friend/mentor. Maybe the answer really is out there, and you just need to come at the search from a different angle (or new resource). If that’s unsuccessful, then:
- Post a message to prspct-l, remembering to protect the confidentiality of the prospect. Chances are good that you will either get a good lead from someone, or seasoned advice to quit your search. If that doesn’t resolve it, then:
- Call a reference librarian at your local/state/business library to see if they have suggestions for resources to check. If that doesn’t work, then:
- It’s time to realize that what you’re looking for is either non-existent or inaccessible. Your report will just have to remain unfinished. Talk to the fundraiser, and then shake it off. It’s really okay. And it could actually end up being a good thing – it will give the fundraiser something to ask the prospective donor next time they visit her!
Have you experienced Researcher’s Guilt? What do you do to avoid it?
*Thanks, Rachel 🙂