This week may be all about relationships, but it’s something we have on our mind year-round in fundraising. Vu Le wrote a thought-provoking, motivating blog post earlier this week about being purposefully inclusive in the relationships we build on behalf of our communities and the places we work to support. I highly recommend you give it a read if you can.
On the information-building side of the fundraising house, we’re concerned about documenting the relationships of our constituents, and particularly our donors. We’re constantly trying to figure this stuff out.
- How can we meet with that perfect prospect? Who do we know in the community that knows them?
- Where (else) are our donors philanthropically involved? What issues matter to them?
- Does our prospect have a connection to a philanthropic trust or foundation?
- What are their family connections?
Thanks to some great resources, search-string ingenuity, elbow grease, and shoe leather, a good amount of this information is relatively straightforward to find with a combination of prospect research and in-person visits. Since we all know that getting the personal meeting can be the hardest part, my team and I wanted to share our favorite resources on the research side to help you get a leg up.
Most wealth screening vendors offer “Inner Circle” relationship mapping which can be useful for prospecting. They allow you to upload (or simply match from) the board members/important people from your institution and will flag anyone that comes back in screening data that is connected to them through a non-profit/corporate board. ~ David H
My first hint would be to make sure you’re noting *how many* connections a person has. I love when I find that people share nonprofit and corporate boards – and you can sometimes almost track the evolution of their relationship by when they served on what boards.
My second thought would be to use news alerts in a slightly different way from usual. If you are following news alerts on your prospect for long enough, you tend to see the same names popping up around them. That’s a long-game but can be very interesting to see who runs in which circles over time.
Finally, for your database, I think it’s helpful to have a company profile regardless of whether the company gives. That way, you can link everyone back to the company and when you need a quick look-up, you can just go to the company record to see who is/has been connected to the company. You could do the same for prominent NPOs in your area too. ~Angie S
For one client I start with Relationship Science as a first look to find connections to their board or major donors. I’ll run the individual name through “Path Finder” and then run all the names from that board list in RelSci, too. It’s often helpful to even do a simple Google or LinkedIn search for individual connections to an organization. I have turned up connections to staff that the client was not aware of by doing that. ~Heather H
LittleSis, which is a freebie, has been an interesting and useful resource. Search a name and the Relationship, Interlocks, or Data tabs can help with boards, co-workers, family members and other connections (his tennis buddy?). You can do the same with a company, too. Obviously you need to verify the connections, but I’ve found a lot of past boards I couldn’t find elsewhere. I like Prabook, too, for biography and relationship information. ~Angie H
I’ve found using board lists from ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer to find relationships and connections to be a great resource. ~ Josh
And of course, if we are talking about familial relationships (and family wealth) Ancestry and its media goldmine Newspapers.com are the best! ~ Kelly
NNDB.com is no longer active (they stopped gathering information in 2016) but it’s still available to search and has good business and family relationship information. ~Rick
When you are a long-time resident in one area you start to recognize a lot of the local prominent business-people and community volunteers when they turn up in articles, donor lists, or on boards. Something I do frequently for local prospects is look at all the members of the boards that they serve on in my area (or the organization board and their top execs if the prospect was a company/org) and eyeball it for connections to people we already know. ~ Grace
Here’s an old stand-by for finding and confirming family relationships: obituaries are a good compliment to sources like Lexis Nexis for this. ~ David B
Don’t forget Facebook! ~ Heather W
I’ve appreciated Boardex for relationship searching. It’s not an inexpensive resource, but if you can afford it, it can be valuable. I always cross-checked with both RelSci and Boardex because frequently one had a tip that the other one did not (or was more current than the other). Filtering down to the most direct connections was always the most accurate.
More recently, I’ve focused solely on first-degree connections, especially for large organizations because it is quite uncommon for them to know as many people as they do in a smaller organization. I also check the organization’s website to make sure that the individuals are still there and have the right title. ~ Jayme
So there you have it, my team’s favorite places to go to find strong relationship information. Are your favorites listed here? If not, please share them in the comments!