As part of “Research Pride Month,” this post is a reflection on why I think Prospect Research (and more broadly, Prospect Development) is so great and why I’m proud to be a part of this field.
If you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you work in the nonprofit sector. And I’ll double down on that bet and say that you probably also have heard – and have to work under the constraints of – that great old phrase, “doing more with less.”
It’s such a trope for those of us working at nonprofits. When I arrived at my current job, I asked around about where the supply closet was for pens, paper, etc. The answer? “There is none.” We don’t have the luxury of a standing inventory of supplies at our fingertips, because we are not a for-profit organization! These things are only purchased when we actually need them, so “go talk to Mary if you need an order placed.” Of course, I’m one of the lucky ones: folks at much smaller organizations sometimes have to come to work with their own supplies.
So yeah, it’s safe to say you are familiar with, and likely work under, the phrase “doing more with less.”
This obviously makes sense in our sector. Any dollar we spend on things like supplies is a dollar that isn’t going to help fulfill the mission of the organization, and for many of us, a big reason we love working for nonprofits is because of how much we value that mission-driven focus.
Regardless of how much sense this makes, it’s tiring and, at times, discouraging. What we really want for our organizations is to do more with more. This is where Prospect Research comes in.
Prospect Research is the key to doing more with more. It’s all about finding more donors (with more dollars). It’s about helping our fundraisers know more about their donors, so they can tap into more of those donors’ passion for our work. It’s about making our fundraising efforts more efficient, and more effective. The organization that invests in Prospect Research essentially is leveraging donor dollars to secure yet more donor dollars. And I use the word “invest” deliberately: this investment provides the donor a compounded charitable “return” on their gift.
This is what makes me most proud to be a Prospect Researcher. The work that we do makes our donors’ dollars go farther. It transforms their contributions from gifts to investments that will continue to pay a return. (I would even go so far as to say that when an organization does not invest in Prospect Research, it borders on simply being inefficient.) Prospect Research is the key to helping our organizations do more with more.
Special thanks to the brilliant Helen Brown, who conceived of and initiated Research Pride Month. Helen has a great blog, and she has compiled a list of other Research Pride blog posts and writings, which I encourage you to check out!