Guest Post: How Prospect Research Helps You Raise More at Events

Nonprofits do all they can to make the most of their events. They get creative with themes, offer interesting twists on the fundraising standards, and even diversify the way attendees can give.

This article aims to give nonprofits another technique to add to the list: prospect research.

Prospect research investigates your donor pool, typically looking for the strongest candidates for major giving. However, the screening can reveal more than donors with the affinity and capacity to make a large donation; they can assist nonprofits in learning more about all of their donors.

That knowledge comes in handy during fundraising events.

Use this three-phase approach to incorporate prospect research into your next fundraising event and maximize donations.

For any event, you want the best possible ROI and CPDR. Let prospect research help make that happen.

Phase 1: Prior to the Event

Anyone who has planned an event, be it a princess-themed birthday party or retirement celebration, knows the struggle that comes from making a guest list. There are always multiple factors at play.

The same goes for picking a suitable guest list for a fundraising event.

You can’t invite everyone who has ever received an email from your organization, and you also want to make sure that the supporters who attend are the ones who would get the most out of it.

With that in mind, prospect screen your donors to unveil who is best-suited for the specific event in question. For instance, if you’re hosting your formal gala, you want to make sure you have all of your major giving and planned giving prospects and donors in attendance.

Phase 2: At the Event

Once you have all your attendees in one room, your organization needs to make the most of the moment. That means your fundraisers need to be on their A-game and have a plan going in.

Part of that plan should involve screening the attendee list. When you research your list, you’ll find the RSVPs that are going to be a top priority for mingling during the event. What qualifies an attendee as a top priority will shift according to your organization’s current needs.

Maybe you’re looking to put together a junior board of young business leaders in your community. If one of the candidates for the board is in attendance, a higher-level member of staff should touch base with him or her.

Beyond where your fundraisers should focus their attention, a pre-event screening could help in many other ways during the event itself, including:

The better you know your attendees beforehand, the better you’ll be able to use your team’s time and your organization’s resources while the event is going on.

Phase 3: After the Event

If you just completed an event and are past the point of using prospect research to help you during planning, let a screening guide your follow-ups.

Be personal, direct, and strategic when you send your acknowledgements and map out the series of follow-ups you are going to send.

You’ll start with thank yous and give the attendees a break from giving. Keep them engaged and slowly ramp up their involvement until you’re ready to send out another round of invites.

Prospect research helps you get to know your donors better, which lets you truly personalize your communications, especially your emails.

The screening can also guide you in determining the optimal giving level for your attendees, so that you can segment your follow-ups accordingly.


Fundraising events give the host plenty to worry about. Lessen the strain with the aid of prospect research and the wealth of donor information it affords you.


About Bill Tedesco

Bill Tedesco is a well-known entrepreneur in the field of philanthropy with over 15 years of experience leading companies serving the fundraising profession.

Bill has personally conducted original research to identify markers of philanthropy and has developed modeling and analytical products that use those markers to accurately predict future giving.

Since 2007, Bill has been the founder, CEO and Managing Partner of DonorSearch.

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