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Prospect research:

Must have prospect donor research tools for 2024

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Tom Dredge, Nonprofit Lead  •  January 8 2023

Proactive pipeline-building is a huge priority for prospect research teams this year. Yet, most prospect research teams often find themselves caught up in reactive requests, leaving little room for proactive efforts. Even when they do manage to proactively search for new prospects, the process of gathering information online is manual and time-consuming. 

Once the information is gathered, researchers have to then summarise their findings in a concise report shared with frontline fundraisers. Crafting just one or two succinct paragraphs can take nearly half an hour. In short, the prospect research process supporting fundraising is sluggish and inefficient, urging the need for technological intervention. 

Enter AI, which is empowering nonprofits to optimise their donor research processes. One key advantage of automated AI tools is their ability to pull and process data from various sources. But the benefits go beyond efficiency; AI and automation can help organisations build stronger donor relationships and lead to more transformational, strategic gifts.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into four types of prospect research software tools you should consider for your organisation in 2024 and beyond.

​Suggested reading: There are a number of donorship best practices that non-profit organisations need to keep in mind — our blog Donor Due Diligence Best Practices in 2023 goes into what they are.

1. Donor due diligence tools

Merging due diligence into the prospect research process protects your organisation from potentially devastating reputational and operational damage. However, traditional tools such as databases only uncover so much about a subject. Automated due diligence tools can analyse a wide variety of data from public sources beyond a human’s ability in today’s information environment.

Xapien, for example, is capable of scouring through millions of publicly available online data sources, disambiguating between false positives and presenting only the relevant information. It allows you to conduct thorough background checks on potential donors and corporate partners in minutes. You can learn about their business history, financial stability, legal compliance, and any past controversies or scandals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Due diligence plays a fundamental role in defining the growth potential of your future donors.
  • Automated tools can unlock the full power of due diligence research for every organisation.
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2. Network mapping tools

In this globalised and hyper-connected world, network mapping should be a large part of your proactive research efforts. The fundamental benefit of a network mapping tool is revealing connections and linkages to quality prospects, based on your existing donor pool. The added benefits are equally important, though. Certain network mapping tools powered by AI, like Xapien, can also be incorporated into your due diligence process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Uncover connections that can open doors to new prospects.
  • Gain insights into their giving history and where they have connections.
  • Provide insights into the donor’s interests and areas of experience.

Suggested reading: Adverse media checks are a crucial part of due diligence but can be tricky to get right. Follow our guide 5 Simple Steps to Adverse Media Checks to find out more.

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3. Reporting tools

Pulling together relevant information is not the end of the process of donor research. The information must also be organised and presented effectively to both internal and external stakeholders. Reporting tools help facilitate this vital part of the process quickly, enabling informed decisions to be made promptly and efficiently in turn.

Reporting tools produce reports that follow a standard template that everyone within your organisation can swiftly become accustomed to. These reports can also be shareable in various formats to suit the end-user needs. The balance between producing comprehensive, yet easily understandable, outputs through a simple process is critical here.

Xapien delivers on this with fully-sourced, summarised research reports that colleagues, committees, regulators, and third parties can easily share.

Key Takeaways:

  • A comprehensive and smooth reporting process is key to actually actioning the insights that come from prospect donor research.
  • Automated reporting tools help deliver efficient reporting and streamlined feedback workflows.

4. Database tools

A CRM tool that includes network database research capabilities can assist your nonprofit in finding and collecting a subject’s extended network. Blackbaud is one example of such a tool that may be worth checking out. It enables you to expand your pool of existing donors and build out a network database.

A comprehensive automated due diligence tool like Xapien can also find and report a prospect’s extended network. Such a network picture can include more than just the people with whom the subject has a connection. It can also show their past and present affiliations with other causes or organisations.

These insights can be invaluable to an organisation’s future partnerships and major Donor Fundraising Strategy. Information about a new or existing subject’s network could open up more potential for collaboration, fundraising, or other mutually beneficial exchanges.

Key Takeaways:

  • For a CRM add-on solution, or for a due diligence platform that can generate the same information, automation is the common factor.
  • Comprehensive prospect donor research is the first step in achieving campaign optimisation. It also helps you develop better campaigns in the first place.

Suggested reading: For more on the innovativeness of automated due diligence, read our explainer 5 Reasons Automated Due Diligence is the Future.

Xapien: The research tool that does it all

The use of automated tools to boost your prospect research process is now vital to realising growth and even survival. Organisations that fail to incorporate such tools will inevitably fall behind. Not only because they will take longer and spend more resources to do this research. It’s also because they will miss out on the added growth opportunities such tools can deliver. If your organisation is still not using these kinds of solutions, it is definitely time to switch.

Xapien aims to democratise due diligence by making its efficient capabilities available to organisations of all shapes and sizes. Integrating Xapien into the workflow enables prospect research teams to handle multiple research and due diligence requests with remarkable efficiency and speed.

With Xapien, researchers don’t need to dedicate entire days to due diligence research. The outcome? Quicker approval processes, a faster-moving pipeline, and better relationships with potential donors.

Xapien is easy to use and can quickly scour millions of publicly available online data sources with just a few simple terms of context. Its findings are compiled into a fully-sourced, summarised report that can be easily shared with front-line fundraisers. Want to see Xapien’s powerful tools in action? Just fill out the form below for a tailored demo.

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