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Prospect research:

How The University of Liverpool scaled its fundraising pipeline

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Like many institutions, The University of Liverpool left donor due diligence until the last step in its gift acceptance process. It was time-intensive work, which involved manually searching Google and spending hours reading duplicate content.

As fundraisers requested more due diligence checks, it became unsustainable for the research team to continue. They often prioritised higher-value donations to keep up, but that risked overlooking red flags among lower-value prospects.

With limited capacity, the research team knew they needed a tool to conduct due diligence more quickly and earlier on. And that’s exactly what they achieved by adopting Xapien.

By letting Xapien handle the manual groundwork, the team could conduct due diligence on every prospect in a much shorter time frame. Keep reading to learn how they scaled due diligence capacity and the university’s fundraising pipeline.

Built due diligence into prospect research

The research team would conduct extensive prospect research, and then the fundraising team would nurture relationships with prospects until reaching the point of requesting a gift. 

At this stage, any adverse findings during due diligence could complicate matters. The university had previously declined gifts due to issues with individuals’ backgrounds. But with Xapien, they can rule out prospects before approaching them. 

Xapien optimised the team’s process by merging due diligence into prospect research. Instead of keeping them separate processes, due diligence is done upfront so prospects aren’t left waiting. Plus, fundraisers can approach the prospects they already know are qualified.

Automated web searches for donor research

The real reason why due diligence is left until last? Because it demands a significant time commitment. For The University of Liverpool, the process was slow and time-consuming, which involved consulting various databases like Companies House. 

While search engines are powerful tools, they require precise search strings to be effective. However, risk is highly complex, and using risk-related search strings becomes outdated quickly. 

Search engines also surface repetitive content, which meant the research team had to read each article to determine if it was relevant and contained information they didn’t already know. They found it frustrating to search beyond the initial pages of results. Searches also produced different outcomes, raising concerns about search engine biases.

Xapien surfaces all the necessary information about a prospect for the research team in a matter of minutes using real-time information. Since Xapien only gathers information it’s confident is relevant to the subject, there’s no need for the team to go through every article — although they can click on any sentence to verify the source.

Professionalised due diligence

As due diligence transitions from being a nice-to-have to becoming an integral part of the prospect research process, what impact has it had on the wider operations team at the university?

Primarily, it has elevated the profile of the research team and established a reputation internally as the go-to source for due diligence. They are consulted more frequently now, which has professionalised their role. Xapien has also enhanced its efficiency in handling requests and ensuring timely responses.

How could Xapien benefit your institution? 

When asked why The University of Liverpool chose Xapien, Research Manager Stephen Kehoe explained that the product was tailored to their needs, unlike other generalised due diligence software they considered during the purchasing process. That’s the Xapien difference — it’s designed with universities and nonprofits in mind. Our AI-powered tool is also used in universities across compliance, research partnerships, and international partnerships teams.

Ready to get started? Book a call with our experts in philanthropy here or fill in the form below.

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