Prospect Research Guidelines

How to Request Prospect Research

Prior to submitting research check Advance to see if research has recently been completed. Users can do so by navigating to the entity's record in Advance and clicking Biographic - Documents. Sort on Description and search for the "InDepth Profile" or the "Executive Snapshot". Select blue page icon to view the most recent research. If research is still needed, it can be requested by emailing

Once Submitted

After submission your request will be added to our schedule of work in progress. Requests are then prioritized using the following criteria: Board Research, Presidential Research, Major Gift Solicitation Appointment, Major Gift Cultivation Appointment, Major Gift Evaluation or Cultivation, and Evaluation of Suspects.

We do not use the same resources for every profile but let our experience guide us to the most useful resources for each person. Information provided by development officers in contact reports or communicated as additional information on research requests serves as a valuable guide in our quest for knowledge. When sorting through the various sources available our goal is not to find everything possible on an individual but to find everything useful in furthering our institutional fundraising efforts.

Turnaround Time for Completed Research

Ideally we need two weeks lead-time. We are generally working from a backlog of requests. A profile can take as little as half a day or as much as a week depending on the amount and complexity of information available. Some resources come from other campus locations such as archives or a school unit and can slow down the overall process. If requests are made without sufficient lead-time, we will send existing research if available or contact the requestor about alternatives. If the person you are inquiring about is not in Advance please call or email the Director of Prospect Research. 

Distribution of Completed Research

Upon completion, the research profile is stored in Advance under the Entity's record in the Biographic - Documents section. An email is then sent to the requester; and the Entity record is updated accordingly. 

Proactive Research

There are two historically slower periods when the number of requests allows for us to engage in proactive research. These are July 4 through mid August and Thanksgiving through Christmas. During these times we update trustee and major donor profiles. In December we try to work on major donors located in Florida so that they will be ready for January through March trips. Other methods we use to identify suspects are alumni surveys; "Business Owners","C-Level Position" holders, “Fastest Growing Small Companies”, "Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals" lists . We also undertake review of all alumni in a specific city looking at past giving patterns, job titles, couples, or multiple grads at the same company. In some cases, we take the next step and create a profile notifying the appropriate development officer when the profile is complete. In other cases we communicate the name to the appropriate school or central development officer and create a “suspect” record in Advance. When proactive research identifies a new suspect the information is forwarded to the Associate Director of Prospect Management.

-Prospect Research Policy, Rev. 5/4/20