- Fundraised income in the UK and elsewhere will struggle to grow until prospect research is more incorporated into fundraisers work and until senior leadership take it more seriously as a strategic proposition. Prospect research’s raison d’être is to help fundraisers go where the money is, and go there often. Yet, too often we find conference agenda lacking prospect research content, and thought leaders not discussing prospect research. #ResearchPride is our chance to change this and tell the world how important prospect research is to funding more of the vital work our organisations do
- We cannot escape the fact that wealth an income in many countries is now more unequal than was the case 20 or 30 years ago. This means we cannot trust our fundraising approaches to chance. Those able to offer truly major support are a very elite group – and we must be directed in finding them among our supporter base. Even a brief reading of the Sunday Times Rich List shows that 2% of the value of members of the list (in 2015 valued at £587bn) would double to amount of directly donated income going to UK Charities. And the Coutts £m Report shows that the link between wealth creation and philanthropy in Britain is weak to the point of not existing. UK GDP is £1.5trn (trillion) per year, yet £m+ philanthropy is valued at £1.3bn. The Big Society has failed to budge this trend – while the UK is by some measures the most generous society in the world, prospect research can and should help fundraising be strategically directed toward key areas of potential growth, including high-value giving. Important within this is ensuring charities change their habit of not asking for enough, again, something prospect research can help to change
- Researchers give the sector space to consider new ideas and cross-pollinate. In an industry where the next deadline is never far away, we can also help our advancement offices to lift their heads, take a look beyond within-year targets to scan the horizon for trends and innovations. In doing so, researchers can enable fundraising to move from being a short order cook to Feran Adria. As we’ve seen from recent developments in the UK, this is invaluable – a week (or a couple of months) is a long time in fundraising, and inertia is often not an option. We must respond to events, and prospect research should be central to this response.
- Finally I’m hugely proud that researchers help to make the most of donor contributions. The ROI for investments in prospect research often exceed 10:1, a truly outstanding return. If nonprofits are ever to overcome perennial donor concerns over admin costs and impact effectiveness, prospect research will surely be at the heart of the answer.
Looking forward to #ResearchPride 2017!