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!

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