This week we welcome HBG Senior Researcher Jennifer Turner to the blog to discuss one of her favorite topics – prospect identification. Jen’s been working with a longstanding (and much beloved) client for over five years and the majority of her work over that time has been prospect identification. As a result, Jen is our go-to person on the team when someone wants some innovative ideas to break out of the same-old-same-old ways of looking for new donors. Here she shares three great ideas for you – do you have any to share with her? ~Helen
As I began thinking about a topic for this blog post and looked at my current list of projects for inspiration, I realized I was in the same position I was in when asked to write a blog post five years ago – immersed in prospecting! So, here we go with some more tips on finding new prospects, or, what I affectionately refer to as, “Prospecting 2.0.”
I was recently on a hunt for new prospects, but felt like I had exhausted the usual resources. I was tired of searching the Rich Register and combing through annual reports of organizations similar to that of my client. Having caught up on my alert emails (side note: setting up an alert for “million” AND “gift” can be one way to identify new prospects, just beware that you will be inundated with results and others may already be on their trail as well), I realized it was time to step outside the box of usual resources…
Then I remembered a session I had attended at the last April’s NEDRA conference titled “Lyft that Rocket Lab to the Improbable (all things “unicorn”) by Richard Horne and LaShawn Underdue. During this session, we learned that companies valued at over $1 billion are known as unicorns, and there are over 260 unicorn companies. A deeper look at the executives behind these companies can lead you to some hidden gems that may otherwise not appear on your typical rich lists (since these are private companies, salaries are not disclosed, and there are no stock holdings to report). Yet, I repeat – these are billion dollar companies! And some may be on the verge of going public – definitely worth adding to your alert list. So check out the executives at these companies and see where their philanthropic interests lay.
Another vein that may lead you to a gold mine of new prospects is the world of angel investors and the organizations they are affiliated with. While you may have already known that such organizations exist, have you ever taken the time to delve into the background of their members? You may be surprised by how many gems you come away with. While it may seem tedious, the payoff could be well worth it. If you don’t know where to start, check out this directory: https://www.angelcapitalassociation.org/directory/
On the site, the organizations are broken down by regions, which is great if you have a development officer traveling to a specific geographic area and looking to fill time with some new prospects.
…IN THE HEDGES
Another area I like to check periodically is the mysterious world of hedge funds. Like angel investors, these executives do not necessarily appear on any rich list because their hedge funds are considered private companies and therefore are not required to report salaries. That being said, we all know big money is usually associated with this field. If you need help getting started, search “hedge fund” and “New York” (or any city your development officer may be visiting) and see what results are returned. You’ll end up with a nice list of hedge funds in your targeted geographic area. You can quickly review the total assets of the firm (to ensure you are dealing with the ultra HNWIs), and then start looking at the top executives.
Again, this may seem a bit tedious, but I find it’s worth putting in the extra time to find these hidden gems, as opposed to relying on the top names that everyone sees on published rich lists.
These are just some of the ways in which I try to find prospects who may be flying under the radar. They may not appear on any wealth list (yet), but a quick look at the size of the company they are affiliated with (be it a unicorn company, through angel investing, or hedge fund affiliation) suggests the amount of money being exchanged. A deeper look into where these prospects may live (and the value of their home) or the size of gifts they’ve already made can confirm your initial hunch that they could easily make a six, and in most cases, even seven, figure gift.
These suggestions are meant to help you be proactive – don’t wait for your development officer to give you the criteria to search for new prospects. Trying thinking beyond the obvious HNWIs to find the unpublished names. While it may seem overwhelming at first, even spending a few minutes at the end of each day scrolling through the executives of unicorn companies, angel investors, and hedge funds can have huge payoffs. Your development officers will thank you for finding those new people who aren’t already being solicited!
What methods do you have for thinking outside of the box when it comes to prospecting?