Relationship Mapping: Woodbury School of Business receives $2 million donation. Here’s the Prospect Visual angle!

Utah Valley University’s Woodbury School of Business received a $2 million donation on Thursday the 30th of December. 

Vivint Inc donated $1 million and a further $1 million came as a personal donation from their CEO, Todd Pederson. The donation will fund the new Todd Pedersen Professional Sales Program that begins this fall, along with a new marketing research center, laboratory and multiple scholarships that will help students as they hone their sales skills.

This is an image captured from Prospect Visual. The people on the left are connected to Vivint Inc and the people on the right have direct links to Utah Valley University.

Using our patented relationship mapping technology we are able to identify the overlapping relationships and mutual connections that may have been the decisive factors in influencing this donation.

Want to find out which prospective donors you have the potential to influence?

Improving your Database and finding new high net-worth Prospects

Prospect Visual Success Story: In just one day we enriched our discovery pool with two $1m+ prospects

My name is Kate and I am Director of Prospect Research at the Red Organization. For more than a year we had been searching for data visualization tools and other ways to find new perspectives of our data. We had even done a demo of Prospect Visual previously, but did not buy the product – until recently when we had a one-day trial subscription of Prospect Visual and had amazing results. We found two new prospects rated at one-million plus!

The Search for Data Visualization

As we explored products that could visually represent our data, we recognized the power of viewing data in different ways. For example, when we viewed our prospects visually on a map it gave us insights we never got when we looked at zip codes. What we did not find was a product that could help us identify more connections between our prospects and key donors and volunteers – visually or otherwise. After seeing Prospect Visual at various conferences, we decided to do a trial subscription.

What we really wanted was to have a tool to show connections between our discovery pool and key volunteers. The discovery pool is what we call our prospects who are not assigned to a gift officer yet, but research believes they have great potential. Generally, who doesn’t want to identify more prospects through connections?

A Winning Trial

Prospect Visual populated our trial subscription with people it had identified as our alumni. As I was scrolling through this list, focusing on names which had the highest number of connections, I recognized a name from New York. At first I was sure it was a false match, but I confirmed that she was indeed a legitimate alumna. It turned out that she graduated in the early 1980’s along with quite a few other alumni that have fallen off our radar because we do not have good contact information for them.  

In one day with Prospect Visual we discovered two lost alumni, researched them to find that they had high capacity, and added them to our discovery pool. Because these two prospects were now in the discovery pool, when one of them attended an event in New York, the gift officer was alerted and was able to engage with her. That would never have happened without Prospect Visual. Now both prospects are assigned to a gift officer.

Adding Real Value

We very recently purchased Prospect Visual and expect to have even more robust success. The Red Organization is in a campaign, and as we move forward, having a product that can deliver new information, not just regurgitate what we already have in our database, is very valuable. For example, one of our goals is to improve the integrity of our data, especially in the area of relationships. Using Prospect Visual, we can identify those relationships and add them into our database.  

I am still so impressed that in just a day of playing around on Prospect Visual we found two $1M+ prospects that we had not heard of before. We successfully used those two prospects as a way to sell the product to senior management. We are excited to use Prospect Visual to revolutionize the way we can work with volunteers and prospects!

Create a "Warm" Invitation List for a Prospecting Event

Prospect Visual Success Story: How a prospect research “newbie” became an information superhero!

I’m Stephanie Caudle and I am a Senior Prospect Research Technician in the Research and Constituency Development Department at Duke University. We provide full-service prospect research to support the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing. A recent college graduate, I’m new to the field and have been at Duke for less than a year. When I was tasked with finding new prospects that our Board of Visitors could invite to a prospecting event, I turned to Prospect Visual to get the job done. With no previous research experience and unfamiliar software, you can imagine how nervous I was!

I could have turned to our alumni database, but the whole point of this special, evening event was to identify people we didn’t already know and who are connected to our Board of Visitors. If this first event is successful, the plan is to replicate it in each region where a member of our Board of Visitors lives.

What learning curve?

There were three Board of Visitors members in the first region we selected. Prospect Visual was very easy to use and I quickly populated the contacts tab with the three board members. I feel very lucky to be working at Duke University where the board members are so highly connected. When I looked at each individual’s connections, one person had more than 50 connections!  

I chose only the strongest connections and within 30 minutes I had a good list of prospects for each of our three board members. What I didn’t have were mailing addresses for the event invitations. I used LexisNexis for Development Professionals to find a home address. In about two hours I had narrowed the list down to ten prospects living in the area, per Board of Visitor member, which gave us 30 total new names with mailing addresses.  

A business address might have been okay to mail to, but I found that sometimes an individual is affiliated with a business that is headquartered in a different town or state from where they live. I needed to be sure these new connections lived in the area where the event was going to be held.

What it’s like to be an information superhero

Being new to prospect research, it was exciting to be able to deliver the list of names and home addresses to my supervisor in such a short time. She was thrilled to get the results, but also amazed that I could gather this information with no previous experience and no training in Prospect Visual! I’m proud of the role I played in helping Duke University identify new prospects through special events with a personal connection. Now it is up to the members of our Board of Visitors to personally send invitations to the newly identified prospects. Our event is scheduled for a few weeks out and I can’t wait to hear how it goes.  

Prospect Visual made it easy for a new prospect researcher like me to be an information superhero!

Connect to High Net-Worth International Prospects

Prospect Visual Success Story: How we performed a 21-day request for International Billionaires!

My name is Mark DeFilippis and I am Director of Prospect Development at The Nature Conservancy. My story begins after we had already contracted with Prospect Visual. One of our senior leadership sent me a request for a list of prospects we could gain access to, with some interest in conservation, and in a country where we currently don’t have any programs or donors. Sounds like a tough request, doesn’t it? He needed to present the information to our Executive Team in less than 48 hours. From the tone of his email, I don’t think he really believed my team could deliver such a tall order. But we did! With Prospect Visual we delivered an actionable prospect list.

How I Used Prospect Visual to Do the (Previously) Impossible

My first step was to talk with our international researcher, Maria Estrada. When I explained the request, she was thrilled to tell me that she had proactively identified and gathered brief information on 21 billionaires in the new country with some degree of environmental interest. A surprisingly good start, but it usually takes at least a day per prospect to build a sphere of influence and find connections on each name. I didn’t have 21 days. I only had two!

The Nature Conservancy had already subscribed to Prospect Visual and around 1,300 of our board, council and trustee members had been imported. We made sure to include appropriate tags for each name so that each individual was included in one or more categories.

I didn’t have any training from Prospect Visual – there just wasn’t time. I had no idea what I was doing, but thankfully I found the user interface quite intuitive and I was able to figure out how to find the 21 new names in the global database, add them to My Contacts and assign them appropriate tags. Then I figured out how to use the Connections tab and map our volunteer categories against the new prospect category I had created.

I was surprised at the number of connections found to our closest internal connectors. I was able to identify connections between our trustee pool and 14 out of the 21 billionaire prospects – several with multiple intersections. I used the filter for connection strength in the tabular view to narrow the list and then I did additional research to confirm that the connections were real and actionable. 

I prepared the memo to the Executive Team using the tabular view of the mutual connections to insert a chart of the unfiltered connections with the 14 prospects. After narrowing the list by applying the filter for connection strength, I used a screen shot of Prospect Visual’s path flow diagram to demonstrate the connections in the refined group.

Actionable Information Delivered on Time!

The research memo was delivered in time to the Executive Committee and they were genuinely pleased and surprised to receive such robust data. One of the comments specifically praised the path flow graphic.

Confident that there were legitimate, actionable prospects to support our potential new work, the Executive Team has moved forward to begin a formal exploration of expansion into the new region. When I started on this emergency project I had no idea how I was going to accomplish the task. Even without training on the product, Prospect Visual made me look like I knew what I was doing. My team delivered the kind of strategic information The Nature Conservancy needed to make important decisions about future growth – in less than 48 hours!

Re-engaging Lost and Lapsed Alumni

Prospect Visual Success Story: How I turned my intern into a relationship-making machine!

My name is Pamela Smith and I am Director of Advancement Services at Nebraska Wesleyan University. I’ve been in my position for about a year. Prior to my arrival, the University had done a great job of focusing on student families and legacy families. What we didn’t have was much in the way of business and organizational affiliations to help us connect with lapsed and lost alumni.

We don’t have prospect research staff so we make the best use of the interns we are able to employ. We hired a sharp student in his senior year and set him to work on how we could use Prospect Visual to leverage the relationships of our volunteer leadership and to add more business and organizational affiliations to our database.

A Great Project for Our Intern and for Our Department

The intern started by locating the individuals in Prospect Visual’s global database. He was able to find business and other affiliations, which we added to our donor database. By examining the relationship networks of our volunteer leadership he was also able to help us find and engage with lost and lapsed alumni.  

For example, a connection to one of our graduates was found through a mutual board membership. An additional prospect was also found who is now being cultivated as a friend of the University. We have been using Prospect Visual as an additional source of information for every prospect we research and have created a pool of more than 350 names in Prospect Visual. These names are all categorized by assigning various descriptive tags, such as “governor”, “alumni executive council”, or “class 1987”.  

Now that our intern has gotten us started and given us some training, we are ready to start using Prospect Visual in new ways. For example, we would like to get more methodical and begin mapping different categories against each other in Prospect Visual. We also want to begin taking specific categories and identifying giving interests based on nonprofit affiliations so that we can segment our database by interests as well.

We Re-Connected with Our Prospects and Our Intern Got Great Experience

In a small office such as ours, searching manually for connections is not a realistic option. Using our intern to get us started in Prospect Visual not only helped us identify new prospects and reach out to lost and lapsed alumni, but our intern had a great lesson in working inside a new database, applying filters, identifying data that would fit into the University database and presenting the results in various formats including tables, visual maps and in a senior class presentation.  

We are truly excited about the opportunities that await us as we begin unlocking more of Prospect Visual’s potential!

Finding the Path to hard-to-reach Prospects

Prospect Visual Success Story: How we use relationship intelligence to solve tough problems

My name is Elana Mendelson and I am one of two Prospect Researchers at the Museum of Science and Industry (“MSI) in Chicago, Illinois. For the past few years we have been trying to provide our fundraising staff with connections that could help us open doors to our prospects. While we had met with some success, the process was laborious and very limited in scope.

Traditional Methods Were Falling Short

Our original attempt to identify trustee connections used a Microsoft Word document with about 30 Chicago-area non-profits that highlighted which of our board members sat on which boards. Keeping it updated was nearly impossible and besides being restricted to only those 30 organizations, we had no way to include past connections.  

We had looked into other mapping software, but it was too expensive or the free ones just didn’t have the capacity to do what we needed.  When I saw Prospect Visual at the APRA International Conference in 2012, I was wowed by the possibilities. Within a few weeks we did the trial and eventually made the purchase.  

We started using Prospect Visual as an additional source of information as we researched prospects. Finally we could include door-opening connections within our prospect profiles! And then when a new committee was formed for a special project, we used Prospect Visual proactively to see if there were new prospects we could identify in the committee members’ networks. We were able to provide meaningful information about relationships in a fraction of the time we had spent previously.  

But it was in troubleshooting where Prospect Visual really turned us prospect researchers into information superheroes!

How We Went From Helpful To Heroes

One of our fundraisers was having trouble getting a visit with the president of a large, regional business. We discovered that one of our trustees sat on a board with the business owner’s wife. We used Prospect Visual to develop a list of the business owner’s connections and the trustee reviewed these with his wife. Through that conversation connections were discovered that ultimately got the fundraiser in the door on a visit with the prospect!  

Another time, as our gala approached, our fundraisers had reached out to the donors and prospects in their pools, asking them to purchase tickets, but a number of them had not responded. Instead of pestering the donor, they wanted a peer to make the ask. We used Prospect Visual to identify peer connections within the MSI “family” and the connections we identified then agreed to send a personal letter to each of the prospects.

Saving Time and Raising More Money

It’s all about time, really. Prospect Visual helps us deliver the intelligence our fundraisers need in enough time for them to act. Being able to provide this kind of relationship information is amazing. We help our fundraisers solve their problems in a whole new way now. With Prospect Visual, we don’t just leap over houses anymore. As information superheroes, we leap over tall buildings in a single bound!

Create and Target New Prospect Groups

Prospect Visual Success Story: How I turned a “mission impossible” request into actionable information

My name is Cristi Hendry and I am Director of Advancement Research at Harvey Mudd College. Like many colleges outside of campaign, our major gift efforts typically yield gifts below a million. Like most prospect researchers, I am tasked with providing prospect information to move our advancement efforts forward – and sometimes other areas of the college make unusual requests. But with Prospect Visual, I have been able to provide information for both the usual and unusual requests – and fast!

How I Found Prospect Visual

As early as 2005, I was involved in efforts to collect and add relationships to the donor database in the hope of performing relationship mapping, but it didn’t work. Later I explored using Excel and several open source products, all without success. Yes, I could make pretty diagrams, but translating it into useful information – which of our close volunteers was connected to prospects – wasn’t happening. Then I discovered Prospect Visual at a conference and I knew I had finally found a solution. We could now go about finding who had the connections to help open doors.  

I gave Prospect Visual a file that included our trustees, alumni, parents, current donors, and our president’s many connections. I made sure every name had one or more tags so that I could map connections from one category to another. Prospect Visual identified all of the names in their global database and put them into the My Contacts space. Now I could privately change, update and add records.

How I Turned “Mission Impossible” into Possible!

That’s when a request came in to identify connections to financial firms, such as private equity, hedge fund, and other financial managers. When I first heard the request I thought, “Really? Are they crazy? That could take weeks to put together!”

Then I remembered I had a new tool at my disposal and set to work. Prospect Visual has a great feature that makes it possible to search the global database by keywords. I used financial keywords for this project. From the list of results I could make multiple selections and then import them as a group into My Contacts with a tag. Very quickly I was able to create meaningful groups of prospects in different industries. Next I mapped specific constituent groups against the new financial industry groups and created a list of the strongest connections.

I delivered the connections to the requesting office with a note that the relationships were likely to be true, but had not been confirmed. They were very impressed at how quickly I could deliver the relevant information. My credibility in that office has been raised quite a few notches!

The Rewards of Success are … More Requests!

Of course, with success comes the clamor for more. My gift officer came up to me and said, “Hey, I’ve got this guy in Connecticut…” and in just a few minutes I was able to find our best connection to him. I have also had great success with our corporate and foundation efforts. The corporate and foundation trend over the past few years has been not to accept unsolicited applications, and even when they do, chances of getting the grant could be low. We have been able to identify connections from our close group of connectors to trustees and executives at the foundations and corporations where we want to receive funding.  

As we make preparations for our next campaign I feel very confident in my ability to provide strategic value to the campaign. Prospect Visual has truly made me an information superhero!

Find New Prospects in the Community

Prospect Visual Success Story: How I found new Prospects that turned into Trustees and Donors!

Hello! I’m Donna Peeples and currently I am the Director of Prospect Management and Development Research at City of Hope in California. This story happened before City of Hope, when I was working for an organization that had to reach out into the community to find its best major gift prospects. My fellow prospect researchers will understand what a time- consuming challenge this can be.

I’ve been in prospect research for more than ten years and was using all the tried and true techniques. I had Google alerts set up on keywords, I was scanning the news, and I was creating lists of everyone our trustees served on boards with – but we were still struggling.We weren’t finding enough of the kind of prospects who could serve on the board and give at the levels we needed.

How I Found Prospect Visual

I had been to an Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) conference and heard about relationship mapping and some of the new tools, so when our new Chief Development Officer came on board and mentioned relationship mapping I jumped at the chance to investigate more.

That’s when I called Tatia at Prospect Visual. She explained how I could upload the people in our existing world, how Prospect Visual could add people from top companies and organizations in our geographic area, and how I could then look to see who was connected to whom.

My organization signed up and I sent her a file with our trustees, friends, top donors and prospects using criteria like giving and ratings from our wealth screening with DonorSearch, and I included some other lists, like the local tennis club where our president was a member, and event attendee lists. Prospect Visual added the directors and executives of the big companies in our metropolitan area.

How I Used Prospect Visual

Prospect Visual identified all of the names in their global database and put them into the My Contacts space. This way I could privately change, update and add records. I had access to written documentation, but my learning curve with Prospect Visual was softened by the live training provided by my representative, Tatia.

I can’t tell you how many times I called her for training and help – she was great!

Once I got up to speed with Prospect Visual things began to come together. In the My Contacts space, every prospect record can have one or more tags. For example, a trustee can be tagged “trustee” as well as “XYZ Company”. Because of this I could ask Prospect Visual to show me connections between my trustees and a particular company. And I could filter for strong and deep connections.

Prospect Visual Yields Results!

This kind of mapping yielded some great results. For example, I would find a trustee connected to an executive in a company that we had never considered before. Once I verified the connection was indeed a good one, I researched a brief profile and delivered it to my Chief Development Officer. She was amazing and would take the information and get appointments.

But one time she told me what no researcher ever wants to hear. She said, “Donna, I know this woman and this information is wrong. She does not have those connections.” It felt like I had swallowed a brick! Wrong? How did I mess that up? Did I forget to check something? I agreed to check on it and went back to my desk. So I checked on it … and Prospect Visual was spot on!

As I explained to my Chief Development Officer, the prospect had been involved with those companies and organizations before my Chief Development officer had personally interacted with her. “You are brilliant!” she told me. “I know,” I replied shamelessly.

Happily Ever After

I’m no longer with the organization, but the last I heard they were still using Prospect Visual to identify connections to prospects and were successfully finding board prospects and major gift prospects. In a short time, Prospect Visual gave my past organization qualified prospects they could reach and connect with. I know it works. That’s why I am engaging Tatia to help me present Prospect Visual to the leadership at my new organization.

Stay tuned!

Six Degrees of Separation: Relationship Mapping Answers the Impossible

by Zach


The History of “Six Degrees”

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” a popular game in the 1990s, has become almost an accepted fact in popular culture. This theory sets up the idea that everyone is six or fewer steps away from Kevin Bacon by way of introduction through the people you know and the people they know. Quite simply, any two people on Earth could be six or fewer acquaintance links apart. So, in theory, I know the President of the United States, you know the mayor of New York, and your friend knows the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Preposterous is the first word that comes to mind. I don’t actually know the President of the United States. However, some interesting theories have backed up the interconnectedness of our global society. The recent theory we throw around that revolves around Kevin Bacon is a product of popular culture; however, some academic research indicates I do indeed know the President of the United States.

The first traces of this idea started after World War I. Late Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy stated that the “modern world was ‘shrinking’ due to this ever increasing connectedness of human beings.” Karinthy saw that everything around him was changing after the first major world war. Technological advances in communication and travel allowed friendship networks to grow larger and span greater distances. He argued that the social networks people were starting narrowed the distances of the world, thus “shrinking” the world. He believed that people were connected through no more than five acquaintances.[1] Karinthy never coined the term of “six degrees of separation,” but his early ideas influenced later research in the academic and philosophical fields.

As years went on, Karinthy’s theory was tossed around academic circles. In 1969, American psychologist Stanley Milgram noted that everyone on Earth was connected by approximately three links. Milgram was “fascinated by the interconnectedness and social capital of human networks” and concluded that the world was experiencing a “small world problem.”[2]

A lot changed over the years from Karinthy in the post-WWI years to Milgram and the 1960s. Modes of transportation and communication increased: domestic and international commercial flights, the automobile revolution, the telephone, the television, and the list goes on. The world actually, to some degree, felt smaller. During that time, social advances occurred and people were more connected than ever, causing the idea to gain traction among academic and philosophical circles, but it didn’t yet come near the stratosphere of today’s social acceptance.

Society’s interconnectedness was no longer limited to academic and philosophical thinking in the early 1990s. The theory of “six degrees of separation” was coined during that time. The theory was catapulted throughout popular culture by John Guare, who wrote a play in 1990 and later released a film in 1993 that popularized “six degrees.” He argued that any two individuals are connected by, at most, five others. As noted above, this idea had been cultivating interest for the better part of the century. But it was Guare’s piece that is most responsible for popularizing the phrase “six degrees of separation.” Guare’s film, which was appropriately named Six Degrees of Separation, provided us with this pertinent quote:

I read somewhere that everyone on this planet is separated only by 6 other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on the planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it, A) extremely comforting that we are so close, and B) like Chinese water torture that we’re so close because you have to find the right six people to make that right connection.[3] See image here [4]

So where does Kevin Bacon fit into all of this? Shortly after Guare’s movie was released, a couple of students at Albright College started a parlor game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” In this game, players go back and forth to try and figure out how any individual in Hollywood is connected back to the venerated actor Kevin Bacon. The basis of the game is that any one person is connected to any other person on Earth. The “trick,” however, is figuring out which people connect person X to person Y. Reminiscent of Guare’s movie Six Degrees of Separation, the “trick” of finding the right people to connect to could be like Chinese water torture.

How to Overcome Chinese Water Torture

Look at what has happened since Karinthy first ushered in his theory of connectedness to the public eye after WWI, especially regarding the use of computers and the internet. If our world was described by Milgram as having a “small world problem” and by Karinthy as “shrinking,” where do we find ourselves today? Table for 7 billion people, please, maybe by the window? But really, with the revolution of the internet and everything it has created, we truly are connected to anyone on this Earth.

If I am in fact connected to the President of the United States in fewer than six degrees, well, go me. But how on Earth do I fill in those blanks? The internet would be my best resource, as I could find any information that I wanted. Where to start, where to look, and what to look for would be my main problems. These problems would add up to hours, days, or even months of research! What I need, what you need, what an actor in Hollywood needs to connect to Kevin Bacon is Relationship Mapping.

Sandro Gvelesiani, CEO of IntellectSpace, a Relationship Mapping company, describes what Relationship Mapping is to him: “the guiding principle is to understand relationships, understand connections. More so, Relationship Mapping is the glue that connects people together.” But how? First, Prospect Visual, a pioneering product of IntellectSpace, collects and curates the data. “After the data is collected,” explains Gvelesiani, “it then begins to tell us a story. It tells us, visually, how people are connected.” See image here [5]

The impossible task of finding a connection to the President of United States now seems manageable. Can Prospect Visual tell me if I know the President? No. But can Prospect Visual tell me to whom I should connect who might know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows the President? Maybe. Can Prospect Visual guarantee you that this is the case? Of course no ] t. But can Relationship Mapping with Prospect Visual give you the tools to better understand your network? Absolutely.

To sum up, our world of connectivity will continue to “shrink.” This “small world problem” will continue to get smaller, but in actuality, this problem will be no problem at all with Relationship Mapping. Our ability to understand the interconnectedness of our small world will be no “trick” at all.

Kevin Bacon never felt so close. 


Prospect Visual – Relationship mapping and prospect research solution




[1] Karinthy, Frigyes. 1929. “Chain-Links.” Everything Is Different.

[2] Milgram, Stanley. 1969. “An Experimental Study of the Small World Problem.” Sociometry.

[3] Memorable quotes from Six Degrees of Separation. Accessed January 3, 2014, on IMDB.com

[4] Image pulled from Google Images

[5] Image pulled from Prospect Visual database, using Example data