What’s prospect research?
In the same way an entrepreneur researches investors to find the best person to approach, prospect researchers help nonprofits figure out who they should be asking for major donations and for which projects. If Jane Philanthropist regularly gives gifts of $100K, and she only gives to Seattle artists, it wouldn’t make sense to ask her for a $5M gift to support bat conservation in Indiana!
Prospect researchers identify which individuals and foundations a nonprofit should approach and do extensive research to determine amount, type, and timing of a gift request. Prospect researchers especially focus on wealthy individuals and family foundations.
Why prospect research + cultural anthropology?
Philanthropy is a complex interaction rooted in centuries of human culture. The tools of cultural
anthropology–qualitative field research, ethnographic analysis, and critical thinking around cultural assumptions–provide another avenue to understand how philanthropists think and behave in the context of their communities. As mission-driven organizations engage more and more with a global community, prospect researchers can look to the cultural anthropology toolkit to help their organizations thrive.
What’s on this site?
The Philanthropologist maintains a list of resources for prospect researchers and nonprofit professionals that focuses on international fundraising and philanthropy. The Philanthropologist blog features monthly posts on philanthropic culture, resource reviews, and guest posts on nonprofit management.
Hey, I like thinking about culture and philanthropy. Could I contribute?
Sure! We feature guest contributors on the blog, you can use the contact form to reach out.
Who’s behind all this?
The site is the brainchild of Amelia Aldred, a prospect researcher in the Chicago area with an MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago and a BA in anthropology and sociology from Earlham College. Amelia specializes in international and arts fundraising and has taught seminars on international philanthropy, industrial research, and internal communications at CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) and APRA (Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement). During her academic training, Amelia did field work in Morelos, Mexico and Chicago, Illinois. For more information about Amelia’s nonprofit experience, click here.
In addition to her work in nonprofits, Amelia is a writer and author–if you stumbled on this site while trying to find her work, check out Amelia’s author webpage.