Institute for Charitable Giving

Research Is Important

Knowing precisely the proper strategic approach to a major potential donor is not at all a tidy process. The great fundraisers understand that.
It takes an intuitive sense and feeling, it takes common sense, and it takes all the research possible.

But you mustn’t suffer from analysis-paralysis. You move forward, even if you do not have all of the research about a donor you feel is desirable.
Actually, at times, you can be strangled by facts and research. It is a prime example of Herbert Spencer’s famous warning that, “the murder of a beautiful analysis and execution can be caused by the drowning of a brutal number of facts.”
You depend on research, but you are not dependent on it. You shall move, persevere, and succeed. You know that research alone will not get the gift.
The great fundraisers understand that there are three major ways to get research. One is to have a research person on the staff. That can be extremely helpful. But not everyone has a researcher on the staff.
Another way is to have a board member or someone close to the organization who knows the person you will be calling on. Have them tell you everything they can about the prospect.
The third and most effective way, however, is to actually call on the person. You probe and you listen. You gain common ground. When you gain common ground, you achieve a higher ground.
I know of one institution that has a glorious research component and staff. It has been gathering detailed data about probable donors for years. But it has yet to make any major calls. It’s been getting ready for war, but hasn’t yet waged it.


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