Primer offered on prospect research

Kris Hunt offered numerous tips on how to mine public records for useful information about donors during an hour-long presentation Oct. 25 in the Dye House at the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill.

Kris is assistant director of research at Oregon State University Foundation. About 30 members and guests attended the session.

Kris assured the audience that, while checking property records and salary averages for indications of a donor or prospect’s giving capacity may appear to be voyeuristic, this information is all part of the public record. The extent to which public records reveal sensitive information is surprising to many. The development officer needs to be careful about privacy and how much of the information gained by research is included in the nonprofit’s database, she said.

Among the tantalizing sources of information was the Christina Pulawski Consulting database of county assessor records. Kris also pointed her browser to, which gave salary ranges for specific occupations in a given city. For example, a family practice physician working in Salem has an average salary of about $170,000.

Kris likes to use Google for much of her searches. She mentioned “Google Alerts,” a free service that scans publications across the country and sends links to articles that mention whatever key words are queried by the user.

The university uses a Major Gift Capacity Calculator which has formulas that figure gift capacities for different variables. For example, if a person’s salary is known, the calculator suggests what the person’s giving capacity is. Formulas in the spreadsheet can be modified to meet the user’s situation. The sample calculator is saved here.

Kris’s PowerPoint presentation slides are saved here.

This entry was posted in donor cultivation, donor management, donors, fundraising, prospect research, technology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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