It’s almost that most wonderful of holidays, and already on our group chat we’ve had the candy corn – Yes or No? debate and the What Candy Do You Hide In the Back of the Freezer discussion. Our profession, too, is sweet, but we’ve certainly come across those who think it’s spooky. This week, HBG Consultant Susan Barclay riffs on this topic and tells us what IS so spooky about prospect research. ~Helen
When people ask me about what I do, I find myself heavily editing my answer, depending on my audience. Unless they’re “in the biz,” they’re either intrigued about prospect research or find it more than a little odd.
The first thing I say is that I only use my powers for good, which usually gets a laugh, but then the questions begin:
- Can you find so-and-so’s phone number?
- Can you find out where (old friend, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, movie star, celebrity of the minute) lives?
- Can you find out (fill in the blank)?
Then the more serious questions come around:
- Can you see my traffic tickets?
- What about my credit report or bank account?
- Can you find my social security number?
The questions become increasingly more panicky until the kicker:
- Don’t you find it spooky what you do?
In preparing for this blog entry, I did what any good researcher would do—I consulted the almighty Google with a question: “What makes prospect research spooky?” Some of the results that returned were interesting:
- Too Much Information: When Does Prospect Research Get Invasive and Creepy?
- Prospect Research – Amazingly Informative or Just Too Creepy?
- Prospect Research: A Breach of Privacy, or a Best Practice?
Yikes! Pretty scary stuff, huh?
After a little more sifting through the results, I found, of all things, a little thread on Reddit. The thread included the original poster’s question and a brief debate on prospect research followed, with one commenter mentioning that all information gathered is presented in a rather dry and clinical format—definitely not spooky.
The last comment, however, made me think. The author referred to the paper files we all have in our offices (or closets, attics, or storage rooms), chock full of donor information that rarely sees the light of day. The commenter mentioned digging through the old files and contact reports and identifying bits of information that helped make an eventual personal connection to a donor down the line. I personally love finding those little connections and try to add them to profiles when I can.
At the end of the day, prospects are people. Just like you and me. Remember that the information we collect and present is sensitive and should always be handled with the utmost respect. Follow the APRA code of ethics. Keep the Donor Bill of Rights in mind when you’re wading through all the information out there.
In the end, prospect research isn’t spooky at all! Not knowing your donor and what interests and motivates them to give? That’s spooky!
FOR FURTHER READING