How To Identify Philanthropists, Possibly the Ideal Prospects

More money means more problems. You have heard that one before. This makes the case why accountants would seek out people with complicated financial situations. From the financial advisor’s point of view, you want people with assets. Philanthropists have money to give away. Therefore, they are ideal prospects. In both cases, financial planning plays an important role. How do you find philanthropists?

1. You are healthy. Now visit a hospital. Hospitals are possibly the best fundraisers in the country. They are excellent at cultivating donors and have plenty of naming opportunities. Your local hospital likely has wings with the names of major donors at the top of the building. The lobby has several large plaques listing donors to recent capital campaigns. It is possible they have a room displaying more plaques from previous capital campaigns. Where possible and permitted, you might take pictures.

2. The rich support the arts and culture. For generations, it was assumed one of the roles of great wealth was to make culture available to the general population. As a result, the wealthy supported museums, opera, ballet and symphonies. Museums also do a fine job of fundraising. Although the museum or performing arts space might be named after a living donor, they often have plaques in the lobby listing donors to the annual fund. These are often categorized by giving levels.

3. Philanthropy appears in unexpected places. Animal shelters and zoos often attract significant donors. Parks and organizations involved in historical preservation often attract major donors. This may be evident on their websites.

4. Annual reports. Nonprofits like museums and hospitals produce annual reports similar to those published by listed public companies. Many people like to see their names in print. If you are a donor, you usually receive one in the mail. Today, since less paper is used and more documents are posted online, you should be able to search for these documents on the nonprofit’s website. They often have names like Record of Philanthropy or Report to the Community.

5. Online resources. Have you heard about This is a database of nonprofits that can be searched using filters. Some data is available for free while deeper levels of information might require a subscription. One of the major benefits is the ability to search for private foundations in your local market.

6. Gala programs. If you have attended a charity gala before, you know printed programs are provided. Sometimes it doubles as your bidding paddle for the live auction. These programs list the gala event sponsors. In some cases, individual attendees can pay a higher ticket price and get listed as a patron in the program. The donors to the gala are usually also donors to the nonprofit, listed in their annual report.

There Are Places You Should Not Go

You might think donors to political campaigns are another obvious source of names. Political donations are usually not tax deductible, meaning they are not charitable contributions. They fit into a different category with different rules. Although donor names are available for the general public to view, pursuing them for commercial purposes is illegal. It’s in the fine print. These lists are often seeded with dummy names to catch people who try.

Some resources, like your college directory, might set their own rules. Although colleges want alumni to connect, they don’t want them prospected, perhaps except by the school. The “not for commercial purposes” is probably somewhere in the fine print.

There is a lot of information about potential prospects out there. Remember to always read and respect the written privacy notices. Only use the information for the purpose originally intended by the source. When you research prospects, find the same name from more than one source (in case the place you found it changes their rules.) Get approval from your Compliance Manager before undertaking prospect research, especially online.

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