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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!

Prospect Visual Strategy Guide: Create and Target New Prospect Groups

Step 1: Make sure your original import is in order

You need to have your internal connectors already imported into Prospect Visual and properly tagged. Consider importing people such as your trustees, alumni, parents, current donors, president or board chair networks, and anyone else who is willing to introduce you to others. When you send your file to Prospect Visual, include the names, employer name, and up to three additional affiliations of which you are aware.

User Tip: If you need help with tags, don’t be shy about contacting your Prospect Visual representative. Tags are essential to using the product efficiently.

Step 2: Choose your keywords for searching the global database

When you search the global database you can choose to search for an individual’s name or you can search for a company by exact, keyword or advanced search. [What does advanced do?] When using the search-by-keyword, consider what common names are used in the industry you are targeting. For example, many firms in the financial world have the words “investment” or “financial” in the company name. [Is this really a good example or are the words too common?]

Step 3: Perform the search and import the new names

Once you have selected the companies from the list, click the blue button “Select One or More Companies”.

Next choose the executive level of contacts you want and use the Advanced Filter if you want to find only people who have connections in specific My Contacts groups or tags. Then click the blue button “Search Connections”.

You will see the path flow diagram and can choose the tabular view. If you want to import the new connections, click the orange button “Save as Target” and choose a name. Those connections will now be saved under the Target tab and you will be able to use the Connections tab to map categories, including the new target category.

User Tip: Especially if you use a common word or the search generates companies with many thousands of contacts, be patient for the search to run, and the company names to load on your screen.

Step 4: Map your connections and use the filters

Once you have mapped the desired categories under the Connections tab, you can now click on the column titles in tabular view to sort by things like connection strength and connection depth. You can also use the Advanced Filters to narrow the list further.

Step 5: Once identified, verify or instruct

Although Prospect Visual connections are most often correct, they aren’t without error. If possible, before you deliver the list of names to the requestor, take the time to verify in Prospect Visual. You can hover over or click on any path for more details. You can also click on any individual to open up that person’s details record and click on the globe of any “role” to view the source document.

If you don’t have time to verify or it is otherwise not necessary, just be sure to instruct the recipient that although most often accurate, the information was not verified.

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