Customer success story

Eight hours of research in eight minutes for the donor management team


From up to 250 manual checks each autumn to on demand, automated due diligence powered by Artificial Intelligence. 


Dartmouth College's donor prospect management team conducts thorough research on over a thousand potential donors every year to learn about their philanthropic interests, ambitions and objectives. This helps protect the college's academic leadership, board members, and overall reputation from accepting gifts that could pose reputational risks. In this team, being "strategic" is mission-critical. Analysts are more than just their title; they are strategic analysts. They don't simply decide who to approach, but also when and how. 

The challenge

During the solicitation cycle with prospective donors, Dartmouth's strategic analysts had a time limitation of one hour per prospect, resulting in surface-level research that often missed important information. This posed a significant risk to the organisation's reputation as problematic details could emerge later in the process. Moreover, the reliance on Google as the primary research tool and the distribution of lengthy PDF reports to committees caused delays. As a result, fundraising efforts were often stalled, and decision-making was hindered.

Where Xapien steps in

Due diligence now takes place year-round with Xapien. Analysts simply enter the prospect’s name, any relevant details and press go. Detailed, readable, and easily shareable reports are ready in less than ten minutes with nuanced and hard to find information about a prospects’ career, achievements and personal or philanthropic objectives. The user-friendly format of the reports allows for easy comprehension by analysts and decision-makers, and the inclusion of a 'direct/indirect' risk section enables quick identification of relevant risks. 

“With Xapien, you go into fundraising with your eyes open... Xapien presents the facts and lets the institution make its own decisions.”

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“It would take analysts eight hours to create a report with the same detail that a Xapien report generates in eight minutes.”

The due diligence and research process before Xapien

“With Xapien we have more confidence in the work we are doing than ever before.”

During the solicitation cycle with a prospective donor, Dartmouth’s five strategic analysts would run background checks on every prospect in order to understand their profile. In an effort to get through the large volume of prospects, analysts would limit research to one hour per prospect meaning that reports often ‘just scratched the surface’ of an individual’s profile.

By the time a due diligence check was done this might be far along the solicitation process, which could create awkward conversations should a report come back with any problematic information. It also led to time wasted by primary fundraising staff and donors in the rare case that the information uncovered meant that a donation could not be accepted. 

Google was the primary tool used for background checks. The analysts would search for the prospect’s name and add keywords such as ‘investigation’ or ‘scam’. Database providers were used to check sanctions lists.

Without a systematic process in place, PDF reports on prospects that were up to 10 pages long were often sent out to committees before meetings.

The challenges:

  • Significant risk exposure to the organisation as time limitations and inadequate tooling may have led to missed reputational risks
  • Fundraising had to be stalled while due diligence checks were undertaken – primary staff were often left waiting until background checks were carried out to pursue solicitation conversations.
  • The reports produced by the team were often lengthy and took significant time to review and digest, before any decision making could be done.

The due diligence and research process with Xapien

Due diligence now takes place year-round, as soon as a prospect is identified, allowing fundraisers and prospects to proceed with confidence.

All the analysts need to do when conducting background research is enter a name, any relevant details and press go. Detailed, readable, easily shareable reports are ready in less than ten minutes.

Nuanced and hard to find information about prospects’ career, achievements and personal or philanthropic objectives is available as soon as the background research report is run. This extra information means prospects who would might previously have been overlooked are advanced more rapidly through the fundraising process.

The level of detail packed into Xapien’s concise, summarised reports eliminates the element of surprise whereby someone else might uncover information about a prospect that puts the College at risk. If Xapien can’t find it, no one else will. It also enables the College’s wider stakeholders to prepare for any incoming donation such as by drafting talking points and bespoke press releases.

Reports are delivered in a useful, simple format that contains everything the analyst or decision makers need to know at a glance.

The ‘direct/indirect’ risk section of the report allows the team to quickly discount irrelevant risks that they would previously have spent hours reading through.

Niche information on low-profile prospects is found quickly and Xapien’s Customer Success team responds within the hour to support analysts who need help to get the results they need.

“It would take analysts eight hours to create a report with the same detail that a Xapien report generates in eight minutes.”

The result

Time savings

Time savings of 1000+ hours annually are now being used for discovery work in the database of alumni friends and parents. There is now time for a greater focus on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) alumni and funding for Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.


The team is more informed about reputational risk and quicker to spot issues that warrant a elevating to relevant stakeholders.

Researchers add strategic value

Dartmouth’s strategic analysts are now able to spend less time on repetitive research, and instead add strategic analysis and advice to primary staff.

Transformed processes

Xapien has become a fundamental part of Dartmouth’s reputational risk strategy. It was thought that it would take two to three years to build the process, but with Xapien it has been done within six months.

The significance of the prospect management team's work has been recognised across the university. The team now leads as experts on background checks across Dartmouth, raising standards in other departments for a more coordinated and centralised approach.

As well as prospective donors, board, institute and centre nominees are all now checked in real time by the prospect management team, who have increased ownership of the background check process.


“Xapien does in 8 minutes what would take a manual researcher 8 hours to produce. This enables us to be more comprehensive in our research.

With Xapien, we go into fundraising with our eyes open. It reduces the element of surprise as much as possible. The reports are laid out very nicely and present the facts, so we can quickly understand the level of risk and do our own assessment.

Xapien understands the reputational risk and adverse media marketplace well. There have been really nice enhancements to the product just in the short time we've been working together.”

Mike Foote DUO copy

Michael Foote

Executive Director of Research and Prospect Management of Dartmouth College.

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“With Xapien, you go into fundraising with your eyes open.”

Key benefits

  • More time for proactive prospect discovery – over 100% increase in prospects reviewed

  • 1,000+ working hours freed up

  • More time for DEI and BIPOC initiatives

  • Fundraisers are provided with valuable donor information earlier in the process

Book a demo now to see how Xapien can provide you with the assurance you need in your research.

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