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Prospect Research & Management

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Data Mining & Predictive Modeling
Data Mining & Predictive Modeling

Methods & Resources
Methods & Resources

How Well Do You Know Your Alumni?
CURRENTS Article Schools and universities are harvesting information alumni self-report or using behavioral analytics—how people react to content—to drive communications, engagement, and fundraising strategies. Social media insights allow institutions to identify prospects and volunteers and better understand existing ones. Much of the innovation is coming from companies with proprietary software, such as EverTrue, Cerkl, IBM, and QuadWrangle, as many colleges and universities lack the bandwidth to constantly monitor social media. But monitor they must. One recent survey found that 72 percent of people who complain to a company via Twitter expect a reply—within the hour.

Instead of Best Practices, Define Next Practices
Advancement Weekly Article Organizations that want to be competitive employ best practices to keep them in the game. Yet, to truly dominate, organizations should adopt next practices, writes one workplace expert.

Office Space: Time for a Better Annual Fund Process
CURRENTS Article As a technology enthusiast and longtime advancement services professional, Michael Pasqua developed a routine to reduce the time required to produce annual fund mailing lists.

Raise the Profile of the Development Research Office
Article,  BriefCASE Article Development researchers can learn a valuable lesson from improv comedians when talking about their work with fundraisers, says a CASE faculty member.

How to Raise the Profile of the Development Research Office
Podcast Bond Lammey, from Bentz Whaley Flessner, shares how development researchers can improve communications with senior leaders and get their buy-in.

Office Space: Reading the Tree Leaves
CURRENTS Article Genealogists use tactics that can benefit prospect researchers, and the more your institution understands about donors and their connections, the better positioned it is to effectively solicit gifts. Expanding upon donors' (or prospective donors') records can open the door to new prospects, provide pathways to better stewardship and engagement, offer more opportunities to tell an institution's story, and increase the likelihood of cultivating family gifts

Raising the Profile of the Research Office
Article,  BriefCASE Article Prospect development professionals can influence change within their organizations by positioning the work they do with frontline gift officers, according to a presenter at the Annual Conference for Development Researchers.

Hiring and Managing a Prospect Development Team
Podcast Jon Thorsen from George Washington University discusses what managers should look for in employees when putting together a prospect development team. Also, learn how to judge the effectiveness of these teams.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Article,  Community College News Article Community colleges leaders should recognize the importance of using different engagement and cultivation strategies to reach and garner donations from different generations of alumni, says a leading alumni relations practitioner.

Social Prospects
CURRENTS Article This brief article looks at how Cornell University is using the profile information its alumni provide in its social media communities to identify potential donors.

Going for Gold
CURRENTS Article The story profiles eight of the 2012 CASE Circle of Excellence Award grand gold and gold award winners.

Marketing Lessons from Madison Avenue
Article,  Community College News Article Community colleges shouldn't be afraid to adopt some of the marketing tactics of corporate advertising firms, says a team of marketing experts from Ohio.

Experts Discuss Improving ROI and Performance in Fundraising
Article,  BriefCASE Article Identifying prospects is not the biggest challenge most fundraising offices face today. Instead, the biggest challenge is in determining how to organize efforts to cultivate those prospects to fill the short- and long-term giving pipeline. That’s according to three data mining experts who recently presented at a CASE Online Speaker Series.

Best Practices for Prospect Research in Higher Education Fundraising, 2nd Edition
Report This free report outlines ten best practices, details six cases studies on institutions of varying sizes and fundraising backgrounds, provides advice from industry experts and includes a special section on the use of social media, as well as sample worksheets and planning documents. (Free registration required to download report.)

New Best Practices in Prospect Research
Article,  BriefCASE Article If done effectively, prospect research has the potential to substantially improve the fundraising efforts of higher education institutions. A new report, based on an analysis of survey data from a cross-section of institutions in the United States, identifies 10 of the best practices used by high-performing fundraising programs.

Crème de la Crème
CURRENTS Article In 2011, 268 bronze, silver, gold, and grand gold Circle of Excellence awards went to 171 colleges, universities, independent schools, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Eight of those grand gold and gold award winners are profiled here.

Champions. Friends. Acquaintances. Donor Motivation Defined: A Lifestyle Segmentation Study Focused on the Attitudes, Motivations and Giving Behaviors of Alumni
Converge Consulting in alliance with CASE
White Paper Which alumni are most likely to become donors? This October 2011 white paper, the first in a series of three, explores the results of a study on the relation of alumni attitudes to the motivation to give.

The Science Behind Alumni Engagement
CURRENTS Article As part of an effort to double fundraising over the next 10 years, the University of Waterloo surveyed its alumni and purchased external data to determine how to move potential leaders into a more active role with the university.

Map Quest
CURRENTS Article Wealth and philanthropy are undergoing a dramatic global shift, and fundraisers at educational institutions must respond by looking beyond their national borders for prospective donors. In this article, consultant Jay Frost provides tips on how to do successful international prospect research using Sherpa guides, database screening, etc.

Research Within Reach
CURRENTS Article Kevin MacDonell's "CoolData" blog focuses on predictive modeling in higher ed fundraising and the process of determining which variables to look at and which are most predictive.

Match Points: St. John's University Uses Employer Find to Identify Matching Gift Prospects
HEP Development Services
Article This May 2010 article describes how St. John's University used Employer Find to update alumni records and identify potential matching gift prospects.

Community Colleges: Growing Individual Giving with Effective Prospect Research
White Paper This January 2010 white paper explores the extent to which prospect research is used by community colleges, particularly in the area of individual giving. Free registration is required to download the paper.

Study Reveals Top Strategies for Better Prospecting
Article,  BriefCASE Article A new study identifies eight best practices in prospect research based on high-performing fundraising programs at 61 institutions in the United States.

Hidden Treasures
CURRENTS Article Sometimes the best information you have on the best potential donors is right under your nose. Some prospect researchers are sniffing out their best donors by using data mining techniques, and they've discovered some interesting things.

Research Services: University of Colorado Foundation - Bronze Medal
Best Practice Staff of the University of Colorado Foundation conducted an audit of all projects to identify aspects of their work that could be automated. They spent a great deal of time producing "biographies" of current and prospective donors who attend athletic and other social events, which were used primarily by the university president and chancellors, the foundation president and their spouses who attend these events. Automating the biography function has exponentially benefited the organization and its fundraising operation.

Do Not Disturb
CURRENTS Article Facts can be taken out of context and used in unwelcome ways. This is the crux of the problem of privacy and the prospect researcher.

No Leaf Unturned
CURRENTS Article Research consultants helped the advancement team at University of Wisconsin-Superior think of their development efforts as a small business and showed them how to grow it, even with limited staff and resources.

Gifts Are in the Details
CURRENTS Article Advancement researchers are helping development officers not only identify prospects more efficiently, but also analyze fund-raising efforts for more successful campaigns.

Special Delivery
CURRENTS Article Prospect researchers are tasked with searching for pertinent information about potential donors of all types, including those who might not already be known to the institution, so keeping up with technology is a professional imperative. This article discusses the various push technologies that are available to today’s researchers—including news alerts, Web page monitors, and RSS feeds—and the types of information these technologies can help them access.

AdvanceWork: Where's the Beef?
CURRENTS Article An nfpSynergy study of donor frustrations with United Kingdom charities offers some lessons for education institutions to bear in mind as they communicate with their supporters. The report, titled “Disgusted or delighted,” suggests that UK donors are most concerned about how their gifts are being used. Respondents also cited frustrations with direct-mail appeals (61 percent) and telephone solicitations (43 percent).

A Wealth of Knowledge
CURRENTS Article Fund raisers often fail to leverage the wealth of donor data they have at their fingertips, but the secrets to winning over their never-givers often lie in those numbers. Peter B. Wylie's 2004 CASE book "Data Mining for Fund Raisers" offers tips for data analysis to improve fund raising return on investment.

The Science of Attraction
CURRENTS Article Annual fund directors are starting to use market research to better understand what populations of donor prospects will respond to, target more accurately, and cut the cost of mail and telephone campaigns. This article covers what well-crafted focus groups and surveys can uncover and steps to doing research. Also included is a short article on how to get valid research results. This article is of interest to annual fund directors and advancement services staffs who work with development communications.

Goals and Assists
CURRENTS Article Prospect researchers and development officers must form a partnership to identify potential donors' ability, interest, and desire to give. This article provides three guidelines for building a productive relationship and includes a table showing the differences in the information that researchers and development officers are likely to uncover. This article is of interest to development officers and prospect researchers.

Tech Support: Worth Every Penny
CURRENTS Article Prospect research online data services aren’t cheap, but they offer advantages over hunting through free online sources: They’re efficient and cost-effective, and they can inform you of news on your prospects faster than you might find it on your own. Hudson reviews three multidatabase services and five targeted services. She also discusses local and regional options that might be useful to prospect researchers.

The Many Facets of Data Mining
CURRENTS Article Author Peter Wylie, a pioneer of data mining for education fund raising, says development officers often don't realize the value of the information in their databases. By asking them 10 basic questions about their data, he demonstrates how data mining can help them better target their appeals and prove a correlation between certain data and giving. He advocates for the creation of data analyst positions within advancement offices and argues that data mining and statistical modeling have applications for major gifts as well as annual giving.

Talking Points: Grants Today, Gifts Tomorrow
CURRENTS Article To determine how student aid affects giving after graduation, researchers at Vanderbilt University analyzed factors that influence young alumni giving. Data on 2,822 graduates over eight years showed that receiving a need-based scholarship raised a graduate’s likelihood of giving by 12 percent, while need-based loans reduced the probability by the same degree. The amount of aid had no effect.

The Reference Shelf
CURRENTS Article A list of directories, who's who books, research guides, and periodicals useful to prospect researchers searching for information about European prospects.

Finding Sunken Treasure
CURRENTS Article Prospect research is still a brand-new field in Europe. The article describes the biggest hurdles that researchers face there—ranging from privacy legislation to linguistic differences—and describes the resources and research techniques that he has found to be most useful.

Read the Writing on the Wall (Street)
CURRENTS Article Certain business activities create deadlines for tax-favorable giving for owners, insiders, or major stockholders. Development officers need to monitor their prospects' holdings for these deadlines and to encourage gifts at advantageous times. Individuals who might merit extra attention include public company insiders, intrapreneurs, and private company owners and executives. The article describes how to identify and respond to two important types of deadline-oriented developments: mergers and initial public offerings. A sidebar provides a guide to related business terms.

Great Catches
CURRENTS Article A creative approach to fund-raising appeals involves identifying and targeting unconventional prospect segments. Examples include first-time donors (University of Michigan), constituents who have requested no solicitations (Syracuse University), disillusioned older alumni (Stanford), donors whose gift level has "plateaued" (Wheaton College), alumni with ties to particular extracurricular activities (Mesa Community College, University of North Alabama), residents of certain states (Iowa State University), concertgoers (Baldwin-Wallace College), and grandparents (Reed College). These institutions relied on information they already had in their databases, collected useful new information, and sought new prospects.

Model Behavior
CURRENTS Article Statistical modeling can make fund-raising efforts more productive by predicting which groups of donors are most likely to respond to appeals. The process, which involves segmenting donors based on behavior and traits, makes solicitations more cost-effective, produces a high return from a minimal investment, and shows its worth quickly. Statistical modeling requires input from a fund-raising expert (usually the annual fund director) and both a computer expert and a statistician (who may be consultants or campus employees). Wylie, a fund-raising consultant, describes the modeling process and provides examples. In a sidebar, he answers common questions about statistical modeling.

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