PROSPECT RESEARCH: RESEARCH SKILLS FOR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
PRE or CO-REQUISITES:
LIBR and Dual: Completion of the MLIS Core
MAS: Completion of the MAS Core and permission of SLAIS Graduate Adviser
Prospect research employs many former librarians and MLIS/MLS graduates, and is a rewarding and challenging career that requires a creative approach to information retrieval and analysis. Recent examples of my own work include tracing the family tree of a prominent Canadian family from 1810 to today; providing the corporate structure of an international company (key shareholders, subsidiary companies, revenues, and profit margins); identifying potential donors with relationships to Aboriginal communities; and tracking the professional accomplishments, real estate ownership, and philanthropic history of a UBC alumnus.
In addition, there is an increasing use of data analytics and modeling within the field of prospect research. These approaches often rely on interpreting demographic data (e.g. census and household survey results), wealth screening, and philanthropic trends to increase the pool of potential donors. Prospect researchers incorporate this information into their daily work, but there is also an increase in positions such as Data Analytics Program Manager – a recently created position within UBC Development’s Research unit – that focus solely on this aspect of donor development.
Within public libraries, prospect research skills can be carried over to work in genealogy, as well as in providing information for those patrons seeking to develop their understanding of investing, and in helping those searching for financial assistance for their work (e.g. artists and writers who require information about foundations and government funding opportunities). Within academic libraries, the recent position advertised at the University of Victoria for a Grants and Awards Librarian provides an excellent example of how the skills developed within this course can be used:
“The Grants and Awards Librarian supports key areas in the Libraries’ strategic directions, [and] supports and enhances the research activities, advancement
and community engagement priorities of UVic Libraries, specifically in the areas of grants funding and awards, as well as special projects
related to community engagement…Working closely with special collections, digital scholarship, assessment resource office, development, and other areas of the
Libraries, he/she will help coordinate the research of potential fundraising sources including but not limited to, individual donors, government, corporate, and
Beyond the traditional library fields, prospect research opens opportunities within non-profits, corporations, and legal services.
The course provides students with the skills and information required for any of the responsibilities or assignments listed above, and develops their knowledge of databases and public resources not included in other courses. These include (but are not limited to):
- Financial resources: Canada’s SEDI (System for Electronic Disclosure by Insiders) and SEDAR (System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval) databases, and the US’s EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval) system
- Real estate: provincial and state property assessment and tax data
- Business: provincial business registries and Secretaries of State information
- Philanthropy: gift and grant databases such as NOZA, iWave, Grant Connect, and the Foundation Directory Online
GOAL: This course will provide students with knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience locating and creating prospect research materials so that they might better understand the field of prospect research as a career option.
Upon completion of this course students will be able to:
- Create a basic prospect research deliverable (prospect profile of a company, foundation, or individual) and recognize elements of related deliverables (e.g. reports, analytics, prospect identification)
- Understand prospect research environments (large and small scale philanthropic and educational organizations)
- Identify and use appropriate tools (databases, websites, publications, etc.) related to prospect research
- Understand process and goals of fundraising and how prospect research contributes to both
- Prospect research as an information service profession – who we serve and what we provide
- Elements of a qualified prospect – capacity and affinity, and how to determine both
- Information sources – free and subscription-based databases, online tools, and publications for gathering a prospect’s biographical, professional, and financial information
- Principles of philanthropy – the stages of the donor cycle, why people give, how fundraisers use prospect research
- Best practices – information privacy and professional ethics
- Career information – professional organizations, job search tools (listservs, conferences, websites), and resources for further study (books, webinars, and certification programs)