Are you sometimes waiting (and waiting!) to have research requests completed for you? Or getting completed research *after* the visit? Frustrating, isn’t it? Wish you had a way to get your research requests done first? It can’t work all the time, but there is a way…
I read a blog post by Rajesh Setty the other day called “Help is on the way.*” Setty’s an entrepreneur consultant and writes for the business market. It’s not long, and it’s worth a read if you have time. If you don’t have time now, here’s my interpretation of what he wrote with regard to prospect research in a typical mid-to-large size development office:
Generally speaking, good help is scarce because:
• People that are good at their jobs are busy becoming even better at their jobs.
• People gravitate toward people who are good at their jobs and ask them to help with their projects …
• …which makes people that are good at their jobs even busier…
• …which makes good help even more scarce.
So what do these good, busy people do to cope with the increased requests for help? Setty writes:
“1. They eliminate meaningless requests.
2. They eliminate requests that were made because the requester was lazy.
3. They eliminate requests that don’t deserve to be fulfilled.
4. They eliminate requests that are not meaningful to them.
They look at the remaining requests and choose the ones that will provide the highest ROI for their investment of time…[T]he odds change significantly depending on ‘who you are’ to them. If you are someone special to them, the terms and conditions section suddenly disappears.
The objective decision making walks out of the door replaced by subjective decision making in your favor.”
Prospect researchers don’t usually have the discretion to eliminate requests for reports. Normally it’s first come, first served… unless your job title gives you the cachet to jump the queue. Requests – both worthy and worthless – pile up. One person’s request for a full profile on a donor prospect they are merely curious about means that another’s truly hot prospect briefing goes further down the list.
Would a researcher prefer to work with a major gift officer that actively sought visits with prospects that that researcher identified for them? Sure. Might that MGO’s requests mysteriously move higher in the research queue from time to time? Mayyybe.
Would a prospect researcher work harder for a front-line fundraiser that came by their desk and said “Let me tell you about the great meeting I just had with that prospect you researched for me!!” Absolutely. Might that person’s requests mysteriously gain helium in the research queue from time to time? Mayyybe.
I know that I’ve done it. I worked with a fundraiser who made a fill-in appointment based on a gut feeling I had about a prospect I’d found. I knew the prospect had their own privately-held company and there were rumors the company was going IPO in the next six months, but that’s about all I had. Still, the fundraiser honored my gut feeling and set up the discovery meeting. That act of faith (and the subsequent major gift donation of stock – I’m not kidding – yay!) forged a great researcher/fundraiser team that communicated often from then on. I will admit to moving that fundraiser’s requests slightly higher in the queue from time to time because we were a team that was making things happen.
Research – good research – is a time-consuming job, and we all only have so much time. All of us want our work to be for something – to know that what we do has meaning. If you don’t have a fancy title after your name, consider internal stewardship to jump the queue. You’re a fundraiser, after all. You know all about relationship building.