The unsung heroes of fundraising

They're the front-line fundraiser's best friend.

Too often unacknowledged when that big gift comes in, they're a crucial part of your development team, and it's about time they got the love and attention they deserve.

No, I'm not talking about about donors (if your donors are unsung heroes, you may be doing it wrong!).

I'm talking about prospect researchers.

March is #ResearchPride month, and I thought I'd cap it off by finding out more about what makes one of my favourite researchers tick.

Preeti Gill is a Vancouver-based researcher with a keen interest in narrowing the gender data gap in the non-profit sector. She runs a fabulous blog on women in fundraising and philanthropy called A Few Great Women, and she kindly took the time to share some great insights with us this week.

Preeti, what makes you feel the most proud about being a professional researcher?

I’m lucky to have a number of points of pride in my work. I’m most proud to have the trust of my fundraising colleagues so I can design a research and analysis program at St. Paul’s Foundation that is efficient, ethical and creative.

For instance, stepping out of my cubicle and into the community to conduct “in real life” research on our current and future donors can make a marked difference in relationship building and securing support. It’s a technique I’ve employed on a number of occasions to glean the kind of detail you can’t find in a subscription dataset!

If you had one message to share with your fundraiser colleagues, what would it be?

This researcher loves donors as much as you do!

Oh, and one more. Now that there is so much easily accessible information out there about our donors, you can turn to me to help make actionable sense of it all. I’m trained to focus on credible, reliable sources of data to better understand our donor base of support.

Knowing you have a personal and professional commitment to diversity and inclusion, how do bring those values to your day to day work as a researcher?

Diversifying our donor base, particularly engaging women donor prospects with our organization, represents an ongoing personal and professional mission. It’s not easy to build buy-in, but my fundraising colleagues do access my resources in trying to build inroads with different communities.

On my first day at my current organization, I introduced myself as a prospect researcher with a committed interest in women donors. It opened the door to exploratory conversations about advancing philanthropy that is both diverse and inclusive.

Much of my professional development this year is focused on this very topic which is exciting! I had a chance to learn from and network with some of the most intelligent and passionate people at the Women's Philanthropy Institute symposium, earlier this month.

In addition, I enjoy spreading the #gogirlresearch gospel to the prospect development community through my blog and speaking engagements at APRA chapter conferences … because a woman’s place is in your prospect portfolio.

I love it -"a woman's place is in your prospect portfolio." I think that belongs on a t-shirt!

Thank you, Preeti! If you want to hear more, do check out Preeti's blog, A Few Great Women, and follow her on Twitter @SoleSearcherPR.

Are you a researcher with your own thoughts to share? Or a fundraiser with a great story about how your favourite researcher saved the day? I hope you will leave a comment below. Let's make every month a #ResearchPride month!

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