Research Categories


Prospect research is not able to determine a person’s or organization’s net worth. Even so, it is possible to know certain things about the assets of an individual or organization through public records. Using these resources, the fundraiser is better able to tailor a strategy for a request that fits the abilities of a prospect to make a gift.

Home Appraisal

These resources are useful to help a researcher know more about a prospect’s real estate holdings.



Publically-owned companies must disclose their financial information including the salaries of their officers. This information helps a researcher to know more about the ability of a prospect to make a gift. These resources will help the researcher find that financial information.

Stock Holdings

Publically-owned companies sell stock to help keep the business growing. Looking at stock ownership helps create a financial picture of a prospect.


Foundations are required by law to give away at least five percent of their assets each year. Additionally, they are required to file a form 990 with the United States Internal Revenue Service to maintain their tax-exempt status. An IRS 990 provides a wealth of information about foundations. These resources reveal information about foundations’ total assets, giving histories, and more. The organizations providing this information fetch them from IRS 990s and news sources.


Knowing what a person or organization has given to previously helps inform the fundraiser about the giving interests of their prospect and the typical gift size for that prospect.

Biographical Information

It is important to be well-informed about the philantropic activity and capacity of your prospects. This information will help the fundraising with making the best philanthropic fit between project and donor.

Regional resources

Each state in the U.S. has unique public resources. Knowing details about local universities, local civic organizations, and other resources regionally specific can be especially helpful in finding useful information about your prospects.


If you are approaching a business for a gift it is imperative to know the current details of that company, including financial and mission information. Business information is usually part of most individual profiles for prospects as well. If your prospect has recently sold a business, it may be a good time to approach them for a gift for example. If that business suffered a big loss in income, it would be a good time to steward a previous gift or offer opportunities to stay connected.

Other Resources

Reference and Public Records: Reference and public records resources are the bread and butter of prospect research. There are numerous questions that can arise in the cultivation of a prospect. A healthy array of resources helps the fundraiser find the necessary answer just when it is needed.