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Why would a major donor support YOUR charity?

Why would someone want to give your charity a major gift? This is the question you need to answer if you are to successfully solicit major gifts. And you will need to come up with a better answer than ‘because we’re a great charity!’ There are thousands of great charities, all of them vying for the attention of philanthropists. If you really want to understand why a philanthropist might want to support your charity over the other thousands vying for their attention each year, you need to understand major donor motivation. It is only when you really understand what someone’s motives are for giving a large donation to your charity that you can appreciate just who will be attracted to it and who it is you should be looking for when trying to identify major gift prospects.

Luckily for you, over the last 15 years there have been several comprehensive studies which have specifically sought to answer this question. And what these studies reveal is that there are several key motivational factors which will greatly increase the likelihood of a donor wanting to support your charity with a major gift.

Affinity & passion

The key motivational factor cited many studies is a passion for the cause. In her seminal 2004 book, Why rich people give, Theresa Lloyd found that for many, “a passion for a specific cause is inseparable from motivation; the enthusiasm underpins and is reinforced by the affinity for and relationship with the individual organisations which focus on the subjects of concern to the donor.”

There are several reasons why someone may have a passion for a particular cause, but by far and away the most common and powerful one is that the person has had some personal experience that is directly related to that cause. Beth Breeze, in her 2010 study, How donors choose charities, found that “People give to causes that they feel some connection to, or affinity with, as a result of experiences and incidents that occur in their personal and professional lives.”

Personal connection

Another powerful motivating factor for persuading someone to support your charity as opposed to one with a similar cause is a personal connection between that person and someone who works for your charity or who already supports it. According to Theresa Lloyd, “Virtually everyone interviewed will at least review and respond to a request that comes from a person or organisation they know and respect…If the asker has given money, so much the better; several people alluded to this.”


In 2011, New Philanthropy Capital and Coutts published the report Inspiring local philanthropy specifically on the subject of supporting local charities. According to Marcelle Speller, founder of, “Local philanthropy gives me a sense of community, of belonging, and it recharges me. You can see that you are giving effectively, and have the most joyous, enriching experiences.” This viewpoint was echoed by the philanthropists who were interviewed for the report, one of whom commented “The great thing about giving locally is that you have intimate knowledge of that area. This means that you can select what you fund wisely, get involved with the causes and influence what happens with the funding.” Another commented: “I enjoy giving to a local charity. You feel much closer to it, and you’re more likely to see the result of a gift or indeed a gift in kind.”

This last point brings us neatly to the next motivational factor.

Personal impact

The extent to which a major gift will make a difference to a charity is another strong motivational factor. This was identified by Theresa Lloyd as being one of the primary motivational factors: “[e]ven if the cause is one which the donor supports in principle, the determining factor is the donor’s conviction that the gift will make a difference.” She found that many donors much prefer to fund a project which shows how their gift will impact upon the charity and make a significant difference to its work rather than add to the general donation pool, especially where a larger charity is concerned.


Perhaps the most easily overlooked motivational factor identified in several studies is the perceived ‘worthiness’ of a charity. Worthiness in this sense does not mean whether your charity’s cause is worthy of support, but rather it relates to such things as “Charity overheads, excessive bureaucracy and levels of staff competency.” All of these were highlighted by Ipsos MORI in their 2007 report Charitable Giving by Wealthy People as particular issues related to how worthy a charity was perceived to be, especially “large salaries for chief executives and hidden administrative fees.” 

Summing up, studies going back 15 years show that philanthropists are more likely to support your charity if,

  1. They care about the cause with which your charity is involved.
  2. They, their family or close friends, had a personal experience which brought them into contact with your charity.
  3. They know someone who works for your charity or who is already a major donor to your charity.
  4. They grew up in, or now live or work in, an area in which your charity operates.
  5. They know their gift will really make a difference to your work.
  6. They regard your charity as worthy of support.


This article is an abridged version of Chapter 2 of Prospecting for Philanthropists, How to find major donors to support your charity

There has never been a better time to start major gift fundraising

Last year was something of an annus horribilis for the charity world and the implications of the changes to fundraising that have been set in motion are still being discussed and assessed. But there is one area of fundraising that has remained above the fray and stayed out of the headlines – major gift fundraising. 

Major gift fundraising is often seen as the preserve of larger charities, but the truth is that there is no reason why small and medium-sized charities should not have a successful major gift programme themselves. Remember, a major gift is what you consider it to be. A single donation of a few hundred pounds can have a significant impact upon a small charity. So do not be put-off by thinking that major gift fundraising only applies to those charities with multimillion pound targets.

Still not sure? Then just take a look at these top reasons why smaller charities should have a major gift programme:

Cost-effective fundraising

Major gift fundraising can be a very cost-effective method of fundraising. Although it can require an initial investment of time and personnel, the return on this investment is far greater than with most other forms of fundraising (especially when it contributes to and enhances trusts and legacy fundraising). 

An increasing resource

As other sources of income are threatened by government cut-backs or changes to fundraising regulations, major gift fundraising promises to grow and grow. There are now more than 10,000 people in the UK with assets of £20m or more, according to the wealth intelligence firm WealthInsight, and several hundred thousand people with between £1m and £20m in assets. And thanks to the rising culture of philanthropy in the UK, they are giving away more than ever before. 

Impact Measurement

Major gift fundraising forces you to understand and measure the impact your work is having. Major donors more than any other donor wish to see the difference their donation makes to your organisation. In order to demonstrate this impact to them, you must understand and measure it yourself. And once you can demonstrate impact to your major donors – you can demonstrate it to everyone!


Charities were accused last year of treating their donors as a commodity to be used as they pleased. But major gift fundraising can only be successful through the development of personal relationships with your prospective major donors. Major gift fundraisers have to put the needs of the donor front and centre. 

Rich people know rich people

Not only will your major donors be a wonderful source of income, they can also be a wonderful source of new prospects.  Whether it is through a one to one meeting, an exclusive dinner party, or fronting a fundraising campaign, many of your major donors will be willing and able to introduce your charity to their wealthy and influential friends. 

It’s not just about the money

Major donors are very often experts in their field and, if you ask them, will have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to contribute to your charity regarding strategy, case for support, governance, accountability, demonstrating impact and so on. This can only benefit your charity. 

Your charity deserves to have more funding!

This last one is the real no-brainer. Do you believe in your charity? Really believe in it? Then don’t you think you should be doing the best you can for it? And that means exploring all avenues of fundraising, including major gifts fundraising. There are wealthy people out there right now willing and able to support your charity, if you but took the time to discover them. Well, what are you waiting for?


I’ve been looking for a decent way to map prospects and donors for, ooh, 11 or 12 years now. I’ve tried various methods, from Excel spreadsheets to sophisticated, purpose built software, such as the now defunct Donor Gateway.


In November 2008 I blogged about the importance of relationship mapping. 


Why is it important? Well, I really do believe it is the future of prospect research – part of the future anyway, and clearly I am not alone in thinking this, as IntellectSpace (producers of MarketVisual) have recently launched a new mapping product for specifically for prospect identification.


ProspectVisual allows you to upload your contacts and then produces a list of ‘hottest prospects’ from amongst the 30 million contacts on IntellectSpace’s database. To see how it works you can click on the demo on the website, but I would forward it to 2m 20s to avoid the opening marketing guff complete with cheesy shots of Stepford-wife types happily networking with each other.


There is also a How it Looks section on the bottom right hand of the main page which contains a series of screenshots of the product, which gives you a quick overview.


Is it the answer to my prayers? Well, not entirely, as there are no pictures of naked girls. And, more importantly, all it does is show you who has the most connections to your contacts, not how wealthy they are, how warm they are to your cause, and so on.


But – and I think it’s a big but – having a list of who knows your main contacts, wealthy or not, and being able to produce a map of this, could prove to be very useful.

What is the internet hiding?

If you have a spare 9 minutes, watch this fascinating film by Eli Pariser about how the various filters on Google, Facebook and others strongly influence the websites that we find and prevent us from seeing much of the rest of the internet, thus creating a 'filter bubble' in which we unknowlingly sit.

It is an eye-opener.

Hat tip: PRSPCT-L.

Using Social Networking sites for research

The Centre for Investigative Journalism are hosting a free talk about how to find and access information held on a variety of social networking sites. 

"Using only open, legal and free methods, from Friends Reunited to Facebook and Twitter, you will lean how to use social networking sites as an investigative tool."

So, if you want to know how a professional investigative journalist does it, the talk is on Wednesday 11 May at 6.30 (to 8pm) at City University in London. Further details on the CIJ website.

Family philanthropy: rewards and challenges

A recent (ish) report from New Philanthropy Capital and Global Partnership presents the results of a philanthropy survey sent to over 600 family offices in the UK between March and May 2010. Family Offices are private companies that manage the investments and affairs of wealthy families. As such, the results offer a rare insight into the philanthropic nature of some of the UK's wealthiest families.

The report is not very long and its key findings are:

  • Families are significantly more motivated by giving back to the community and addressing needs than public recognition or social expectations.
  • Most of the families were satisfied with their recent giving experience, but unfavourable aspects include "tortuous administration" and the fear of being "actively pursued by charities".
  • A large majority involve the younger generation in their giving—85% of respondents with children under 21 either discuss or actively involve their children.
  • More than 90% of families are planning either all or some of their giving and the top drivers in selecting charities to support are the charity’s vision and strategy and that the charity is focused on the greatest need.
  • But finding information about charities is a challenge—particularly around the measurement of results.

Well worth reading to get another valuable insight into donors' motivations regarding philanthropy.


Understanding Companies House

Sorry to harp on again about reading around the subject (OK, I'm not sorry really) but I have found yet another good example of the importance of looking outside the usual fundraising and research resources to further your prospect research skills and understanding.


This time it is the Centre for Investigative Journalism and their annual Summer School. Every year the cij runs an investigative journalism summer school where "investigative journalists and anyone interested in advancing their investigative skills [such as prospect researchers!] can learn the tricks of the trade from the leading practitioners and trainers in the field." Cor blimey!


One of the sessions, Understanding Companies House, is now available as an online video.


Companies House is, of course, an essential resource for the prospect researcher, and the speaker, Robert Miller of the Daily Telegraph, gives an informed introduction and overview of the sorts of information that you can find on the online version, Companies House Direct.


The cij also has a page of notes describing the different types of Companies House documents and what information they contain, written by Martin Tomkinson (RiF Conference speaker in 2009). The notes were written to accompany a different course, but they are directly relevant to Robert Miller’s course as this was originally to be given by Martin Tomkinson.


The sound on the video is a bit hit and miss, so it may help your understanding if you know that when he talks about "invest-ee-gate" he is referring to the company announcements website investegate and the foreign sounding director he discusses is Alexandre Gaydamak. He also discusses phoenix companies. Basically, a phoenix company is one which arises (like a phoenix from the ashes) from an insolvent company of the same name. Perfectly legal, subject to certain criteria, but they have been used by unscrupulous types to try to mask or avoid a dodgy past.


It will help if you have Companies House online open when you start the video, so that you can search along with him as he looks up various companies and directors. And if you do not have access to Companies House Direct – why not?! As Robert Miller says:


"There are a lot of things that you can say about Companies House, but by and large it is your friend."


His other top quote (well, actually, there were several, but you’ll have to watch the video yourself):


"Read Slicker’s In the City column in Private Eye every fortnight, it’s the most authoritative regular publication that uses company reports and accounts."


I could not agree more. As I have said before, Private Eye should be compulsory reading for prospect researchers. There is rarely an issue that goes by that does not contain something or other of interest about one of my prospects or donors.


Website of the Week #23 - Information Seeking

This week’s WOTW is Jen Filla’s Information Seeking blog and the accompanying website of her Aspire Research Group.


As well as the informative and lively blog, she has a page of ‘freebies’ which includes information sheets on data screening and creating a rating system for your prospects and also a number of presentations on PowerPoint.


It's funny, but only last week I was wondering if there were any other prospect research blogs out there, as, compared to fundraising blogs, they appear to be pretty thin on the ground, and then I find one! Cool. 


If anyone knows of any other prospect research related blogs - please let me know! Thanks.  

Website update

A quick post to apologise for all the broken links - according to my link counter, there are some 70 broken links throughout the site!

I have been meaning to go through the site page by page and completely update all the links, info, etc. but unfortuantely (or fortunately, I should really say!) a couple of obstacles* have got in the way, as you can see below:

So, updating the site may take a little longer than I anticipated.

In the meantime, do feel free to email me with any research-related websites, resources, products, etc. which are not on the site and I shall add them - thanks!

* Freddie and Emily

Website of the Week #21 - CoolData Blog

Kevin MacDonell's CoolData Blog is a data oriented blog by a prospect researcher particularly interested in promoting the use of data mining and predictive modeling in fundraising. Ooh, scarey...well, slightly. As Kevin admits, he is very much a non-expert as regards techie stuff - his training was in journalism, not statistics - and so it is all very readable and (fairly) easy to understand. 

My favourite post is the one about Google's motion charts. He recently sent me a demo he'd created and it is wonderous indeed! I've yet to actually create my own, but I blame Christmas for that.

Happy New Year!

Oh, and in other news, I have resigned as Chairman of Researchers in Fundraising to concentrate on other matters, not least the imminent arrival of twins. So in a month or two's time, my posts to this blog will become even more infrequent than they are already!

The new RiF Chair is Sacha Tremain, of the National Trust, and I wish her all the best in what is one of the most rewarding, interesting and fun roles around.


APRA Conference

Only a few days to go until I head over the pond to the colonies for APRA's 22nd Annual International Conference. Ooh, the excitement, etc.

I see from the attendee list that there will be 5 of us heading over from the UK - not exactly an invasion, but better than no one I guess.

Still, more than the one person coming from New Zealand (who we can gang up on, of course...Bwa ha ha ha haaa!)

Latest weather report from Boston - crap. Rain and more rain. Bastards, I'm not flying halfway round the world to get rained on! Except I am. Bum.

RiF Bursaries

Researchers in Fundraising is pleased to announce three new bursaries to help prospect researchers develop their skills and experience.

APRA Bursary

The first bursary is for the 2009 APRA Conference in Boston.

APRA is the premier international organisation for prospect researchers. Their annual conference is attended by over 1000 researchers from around the world and is the perfect opportunity to learn about the latest trends, techniques and resources in prospect research. The APRA bursary will contribute £1,000 towards the registration, travel and accommodation costs of the conference (any further costs will be the responsibility of the winner).

CILIP/TFPL Bursaries

The other two bursaries are for courses run by CILIP and TFPL.

CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) is the leading UK professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. TFPL is a specialist professional services company focusing on knowledge, information, library, records and web & content management. Each CILIP/TFPL bursary is worth up to £500 and is for any course relevant to prospect research run by CILIP or TFPL. The bursaries cover the cost of the course only, not travel or accommodation costs.

For more information about the bursaries, the application forms, and terms and conditions, please go to the RiF website and select Bursaries from the menu.

Please note that the application deadline for all bursaries is Friday 19th June 2009.

If you are not eligible for the APRA bursary do not forget that APRA have offered Researchers in Fundraising members a 15% discount on the cost of their forthcoming conference in Boston regardless of when you register. But remember, if you leave it too late, the conference may be booked up. And flights tend to be cheaper the earlier you book. Further details go to the RiF website and select News.

Mathew Iredale
Chair, Researchers in Fundraising

Conference time!

What a busy few days it's been, what with the RiF Conference, Henley Regatta (OK, not, I admit, anything to do with prospect research) and now the IoF's national convention (again, little to do with prospect research, some might say!)

The RiF conference was, by and large, excellent (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?) Some excellent speakers and some controversial opinions - well, for a RiF conference - and I was pleased with the venue, although I have reservations about the visibility of the speakers for some of the delegates. Hopefully lots of people will fill out the feedback form when we send it out and we'll know what everyone thought.

I shall be attending the IoF's convention on Tuesday and Wednesday - I know, what larks! So, if you are planning to be there, do grab me as I pass by (in a trance-like state, if you get me late in the day) and say hello. I will also be at the drinks Tuesday evening, although I am still in two minds about the party...

One of these days I'll actually get some work done, ho hum.

Website of the Week #17 - RaisingFunding

Those of us who are full-time researchers sometimes forget that for many people research is just one aspect, and perhaps not the most significant aspect, of the work that they do. Many smaller charities do not have the resources to employ a researcher, and so rely on their major donor fundraisers to carry out their own research. And some of those charities will only have one person doing all the fundraising for their organisation.


This week's website of the week is for those people, but also for anyone reading this - researcher or otherwise - who wishes to carry out a little fundraising on the side; perhaps for a local organisation or group that is too small too have their own fundraiser.


RaisingFunding contains over 60 articles written by fundraising experts, who continually update and add new content. Subjects include legal advice on fundraising, using fundraising databases and software, fundraising for an individual cause, planning a fundrasing event, and much much more.

From Major Gift to Super Gift

We appear to have entered the age of the Super Gift.

Whilst us mere mortals have to contend with rising inflation and falling property values by tightening the belt, the very wealthy are moving in the opposite direction by giving away ever larger donations to charitable causes.

It all started in February of last year, when David and Simon Reuben gave Great Ormond Street Hospital a "multi-million pound donation".

Nothing too unusual there, you might think: Wafic Said gave £20m to Oxford University in 1996, a donation equivalent to between £25m and £33m today, depending upon how one measures the relative value of the £, and Gary Tanaka gave Imperial College London £27m in 2000.

But the Reubens' donation was just the start of a sustained run of Super Gifts for UK institutions, the like of which we have not seen before.

In October the financial services firm Morgan Stanley pledged £10m towards Great Ormond Street's appeal, in November the reclusive Barclay brothers, Sir Frederick and Sir David, gave them £11 million, and in April of this year Aditya Mittal, the steel billionaire's son, gave them £15m. 'Gosh!' you might say, if you were one for lame jokes. Which of course I'm not.

But it is not just Great Ormond Street that is benefiting from Super Gifts. In March of this year, the National Maritime Museum received a donation of £20m towards the creation of a major new wing from the Israeli shipping magnate Sammy Ofer and was described as the largest single donation by an individual to a cultural project in the UK.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, when it was announced by Oxford's Christ Church College that alumnus Michael Moritz had donated $50 (over £25m) to the college - the largest financial gift in their history.

But this extraordinary gift was itself topped the very next day when it was announced by New Hall, Cambridge, that they would be changing their name to Murray Edwards College following a donation of £30m from alumnus Ros Edwards and her husband Steve (himself an alumnus of Oxford - ooh, that £30m to rivals Cambridge must have hurt! Or perhaps not, given that they sold their software company for £700m in 2001).

Of course, large as they are, all these donations pale beside Lord Nuffield’s £3m donation to Oxford in the 1930s, a sum which would be equivalent to between £98m and £130m today. But this enormous sum itself pales in comparison to the £466m donation made by Chris Hohn, as reported in Saturday's papers. Although given that this donation was made to his wife's foundation, rather than as a lump sum to a single institution, perhaps it should not be included with the other Super Gifts described above.

All in all, a most extraordinary sustained period of donations. Whatever next, I ask myself?


Lord Rogers is not rich...oh yes he is!

Wealth estimation is a difficult task, even for the experts, and so it's not surprising that they occasionally get it wrong.

Having valued the architect Lord Rogers and his wife, Ruth, co-founder of the Riverside Cafe, at £52m earlier this year in their annual Rich List, the Sunday Times were forced to offer an apology when Lord Rogers brought it to their attention that he was not nearly as wealthy as they claimed.

He explained the situation in a letter published in Building Design on 9th May:

It has long been my belief that neither I nor any other director of this practice should hold any financial equity in the business.

This is why the practice is owned by a charity and profits are divided between employees and directors as profit share and charitable donations. The constitution also limits directors’ salaries to a multiple of that earned by the lowest paid, fully qualified architect.

The Sunday Times Rich List has calculated the value of my stake in the practice to be £40 million (News May 2). This is completely wrong. The entire equity of the practice of Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners is owned by Thames Wharf Charity — in the form of all 20,000 preference shares. There are eight ordinary shares, of which I own two. However, under the practice’s constitution, no equity or value attaches to these ordinary shares other than a nominal value of £1 each. So my two shares are worth £2, not £40 million.

We have already asked the Sunday Times Rich List to correct this mistake.

And correct the mistake they did. On the 11th May, the Sunday Times printed an apology and removed Rogers from the online version of the rich list:

In The Sunday Times Rich List on April 27, we wrongly assumed that the stake held by Richard Rogers in Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners is worth £ 40m. We are now aware that the entire equity of the practice is owned by the Thames Wharf Charity and that Lord Rogers only owns two ordinary shares with a nominal value of £ 1 each. We apologise for this mistake and have withdrawn the entry for Lord and Lady Rogers from the online version of the Rich List and next year's list will reflect this correction.

But the story does not end there, oh no. For those dogged souls at Private Eye have carried out a bit of wealth estimation of their own, and their conclusion (Eye 1212) is that Lord Rogers is not nearly as poor (i.e. worth £2) as you might think.

In 1984 Rogers bought a large house in Royal Avenue, Chelsea, which is now valued at £12m and, as his principal residence, free of capital gains tax on disposal. Some years ago he sold also bought his parents' former house on Wimbledon Common, now worth an estimated £3m. Meanwhile Rogers and his wife own 59.5% of the equity in River Cafe, which makes annual profits of about £1.5m. If sold as a going concern, the cafe would probably fetch £10m, of which the Rogers' share would be £6m. Oh, and six months ago Rogers sold his interests in the Hammersmith properties that house both the care and his practise for £7.5m.

All in all, Private Eye concludes that "Rogers and his wife are probably worth about £30m."

Not quite £52m, but certainly better than a smack in the [Private] eye.

And the moral of this story?

  1. The Sunday Times Rich List is not infallible.
  2. Do not automatically believe someone when they say they have no money.

In other words; whenever possible, always do your own research.

Oh, and 3. Read Private Eye.


Website of the Week #16 - TouchGraph

I haven't really had enough time to play around with this one yet, to determine how useful it may be, but I suspect it could prove very useful, so for that reason alone, this week's WOTW is TouchGraph.

Touchgraph has a number of basic functions, but the one in which I am most interested allows you to explore the connections between related websites by producing Google search results in the form of a clustered graph.

You can see the results for yours truly below.

It shows various websites, some directly related to me, others not really related at all, but enough information to allow someone to get an idea of the sorts of things I was into. The left hand column lists the websites, sorted in the same groups as the graph.

As I say, I have not had time yet to really test this sucker, but I have a gut feeling that it could be good. Or I may just be hungry.


Yesterday, Professional Fundraising. Today, The Times!

Tomorrow, the World!

Yup, that's right, my name is up in lights, well, black and white, anyway, in today's Times newspaper.

If you go to Page 5 of the Public Agenda section and look at the “In the Professional Press” column on the right hand side you’ll see that I’m quoted in the second paragraph (quote taken from the article I wrote for Professional Fundraising magazine.)

What larks, eh?!


Inside the Monkeysphere Part 3

I have had an article published in the latest issue of Professional Fundraising Magazine.

What fun!

Except for two things.

They spelt my name wrong.

They have edited the crap out of it (although it might heve been too long in its original version).

If you wish, you can read the full, un-expurgated version here.


Website of the Week #15 - Alt Search Engines

Not so much Website of the Week as Website for the first time in several Weeks, but hey ho, what do I care?

So, this week's WOTW is AltSearchEngines, which contains extensive information about alternative/niche search engines (as well as the big boys). Their goal is to make AltSearchEngines “the definitive destination for everything related to alternative search engines - over 1,000 of them!”

Whilst not anti-Google, they do wish to emphasise the very many alternatives to that search engine giant. And let's face it, Google may not be around for ever. Or rather, it may not be the best search engine forever. After all, it was only a few short years ago - well, the late 1990s I guess - that Google was the young pretender and Yahoo, Hotbot, AltaVista and so on were the major players. How quickly things change.

But just who will replace Google? AltSearchEngines has a go at picking a few contenders.

Major Donor Conference Report

Feedback from the ThirdSector Major Donor Conference (13th May 2008)

I meant to write this up a week ago but various things, work and illness, got in the way, is a shortened version of what I was going to write because, quite frankly, I can't be arsed to write a long version.

In fact, here is an ultra short version:

No matter how much you know (or think you know), go to conferences! You never know what useful information you may pick up.

And boy did I pick up some useful information.

For example, I learned from one speaker that Patrons to their appeal have all given the charity at least £100,000.* And a quick check the next day showed me that Patrons to their appeal are listed on their annual report. The upshot of this is that I now have a list of almost 100 prospects each of whom I know is capable of a donation in excess of £100,000. Cool.

So, to keep this short and sweet, the conference theme was Identify and Cultivate Major Donors, although the bulk of the day was about cultivation rather than research.

In fact Bugger, used that phrase already And I have to say, those parts that were about research were rather weak. For example, the title of the first talk began with "Implement the Latest Techniques to Successfully Identify your Potential Prospects..." and what was said, whilst being interesting (and informative to those new to prospect identification), most certainly did not include the "latest techniques" in prospect research.

And although some of the other speakers touched upon research, they just spouted the usual ignorant guff. E.g. "Find out about your prospects through Who's Who and Lexis Nexis" (and what else??? These are not the only biographhical or news sources!!!) Or, "Get your database screened" (but none of them pointed out that data screening companies have substantially different data sets and so you need to get your data screened by more than one company to  maximise your chances of identifying prospects. I made my concerns known in the feedback sheet, so perhaps the next conference major donor conference will be different. Or perhaps they should have a conference devoted to prospect research (is that a pig I see flying overhead?)

I must add, though, that there were some very good speakers: Ben Morrison of Jewish Care, Rob Aldous of Moorfields Eye Hospital and the very entertaining Mide Akerewusi, lately of SCOPE, but now heading off to Canada. Although with Mide, I did get the slight feeling that there was more style than substance to his talk. But what style!

There was also an informative talk from Sophie Hackford of New Philanthropy Capital, who is coming to speak at the forthcoming Researchers in Fundraising conference.

OK, now I've got the plug in, I tire of this post. Laters...

* EDIT (22/05/08): I originally said the figure was £12,500, but that was for something else - doh!

JC Power 100

The Jewish Chronicle has just published its second annual list of those Jews and non-Jews who wield the greatest influence on British Jewry.

The JC Power 100 lists, as the name suggests, the top 100 movers and shakers as chosen by JC readers and an expert independent panel representing all strands of Jewish life.

Unsurprisingly, it includes a fair number of philanthropists and others of interest to fundraisers and researchers, but equally surprisingly, it does not include Sir Alan Sugar. I know, cor blimey! Or rather, Oi Vei! *


* Oh come on, surely you don't expect me to write a post about the JC Power 100 without at least one hackneyed, stereotypical Jewish phrase. I think that I was very restrained. But then again it is Monday; I'm just warming up.

RSS Feed request

This is a question for those of you who get this blog by RSS.

On the front page of my site I have the following information:

Regarding the weblog, there is an RSS button right at the bottom of the screen; i.e. if you go to the blog page and scroll right to the very bottom, there it is, nestling on the left-hand corner - very conspicuous, not. I have no idea how it works, but apparently it allows you to receive the blog without going into the website, etc. To do this, I am reliably informed, you will need an RSS reader, which you can find here.
What I want to know is,
a) is this the best advice I can give regarding how to access the blog by RSS? Personally, I think it's a tad uninformative.
b) is Newsgator the best RSS reader, or are there better ones to recommend?
Answers, please, either in the comments section, or via email.

Tip of the Week #19 - Finding trusts that fund unusual stuff

Or, how to save the weeble!


This week's tip is courtesy of Melanie Matthews of TB alert (her second tip on The Prospect Research Toolkit – you can read the first one here).


How often do we see the following question on the Trust & Statutory Discussion Group?


I'm looking for a trust that will fund a new database/internet site/minibus/rainforest/my breast enlargement*


* Delete as appropriate


I.e. the person thinks that to fund an unusual item, such as funding for a new website, you need to find a trust that specifically funds new websites.


You do not.


Here are some of the options you should consider.


1.Your overall fundraising strategy. 


Are you relying simply on trusts for your income?  If so – eggs and baskets come to mind.  Other types of income are non-restricted and could be used for these things (events, appeals and many more) if you don't do them then maybe your fundraising department should think about its long term strategy of getting core unrestricted funds and start to include ways of fundraising other than trusts. One small sponsored event could raise enough for your needs.


2. Not all trusts insist on giving restricted funds. 


So raise more unrestricted money from trusts and use it for any of these items.  These trusts want to know examples of your work and why you are a good charity and benefiting people in a way that is really positive – then you can spend the money however you want.  If you don’t know who they are ask if they need a specific project or not before you make the application.


3. Fundraising for a specific item. E.g. you work for a charity that studies infant deaths and you need a new website. 


Change your thinking. You do not need a website. You need what? An awareness tool?  An information service/support tool for mothers who have lost an infant? A resource for social workers to be able to access support for those mothers? A resource for healthworkers to share information in order to help increase their knowledge of the study of infant deaths (all of these being, for many charities, direct charitable objectives)


The application should say:


The problem: Not – we need a website and we don't have enough money! The problem is that there are still too many infant deaths, no-one knows why or where to get the right information, and so on.


Your solution: Providing a website which will let people know about this, and provide an awareness tool to make more mothers/doctors aware of what could happen and how they can do their best to prevent it, or an information service/support tool for mothers who have already lost an infant, to help them through the grieving process and help their other children deal with it, or a resource for social workers to be able to access support for those mothers so that mothers are given the support they need, or a resource for healthworkers to share information in order to help increase their knowledge of the study of infant deaths so that the research that is done is more widely known and more effective. And so on.  


What you want:  £XX,XXX


What that money will doNot pay for a website!  The money will ensure that X number of mothers/doctors are helped with information or X number of social workers get quick access to information they need or X number of researchers have a focal point to look at all the studies that have been done and their results so as to make their research more effective.


Let’s look at it another way…


Imagine that you work for Save the Weeble (the weeble is now sadly endangered by loss of its habitat - oh yes it is) and you need a new database.


The application should not say – we need a new database but we don't have enough money to pay for one.


What it should say is that weebles - cute, wobbly, lovely weebles - are needlessly dying! 


We need to tell the world about this travesty, we need to lobby parliament and governments all over the world, we need to gather together a database of weeble-workers, we need to reach out to the caring British public to give us money – and we know they will. 


But wait!


We cannot do any of that at the moment because we only have one old computer and a home-made database.  The fate of the weeble lies in our hands, as we alone have the knowledge and experience, we alone can save them but we cannot currently do so because we don’t have modern IT equipment!


The solution is a database and server which will ensure that we can let people know about this crisis, provide information for weeble watchers, help us communicate with and lobby decision makers, and most importantly raise hundreds of thousands of pounds from the general public for a weeble sanctuary.



As Melanie says, this formula works for any charity, any need.



Except possibly breast enlargement. I made that one up. Still, you never know...

Website of the Week #14 - Phil Bradley's website

The website o' the week this week is Phil Bradley's website

Making search easier for everyone runs the tagline and I would have to agree. Phil's site is a smorgasbord of information on search engines, searching the internet and keeping up to date on internet events, with numerous free articles on internet searching and a regularly updated weblog.

Articles of particular interest to prospect researchers include Which search engine for which query? and a comparsion of UK based search engines.

Remember, there's more to life than Google!

Tip of the Week #18 - Data Protection Act

This weeks TOTW is to read the Data Protection Act.

I know what you're thinking, this is a pretty obvious tip, right?

Well, maybe, and yet I get the feeling that there are a fair number of fundraisers and researchers out there who have not read the act. But to be perfectly frank, because I'm tired of being Mathew, you must read it. There are no excuses not to.

Well, there is one, I guess, which is that the act is very, very boring to read. But that's not really much of an excuse, is it? The act is not very long, not very difficult to read or understand, and, for the most part, not very difficult to interpret.

I say 'for the most part' as there are sections of it that are a little ambigious when applied to prospect research. Hah, to say the least.

But you can help your interpretation of it by checking out Adrian Beney's site, and also by reading the Researchers in Fundraising Guidelines on interpreting the Data Protection Act.

The Institute of Fundraising has also produced a Code of Fundraising Practise concerning Data Protection which "aims to draw attention to those areas of the act that apply to fundraising activities" and which is worth reading.

So, all in all, exciting stuff, expecially for a Friday afternoon!


Website of the Week #13 - Newsbiscuit

This week's WOTW is the news & current affairs site Newsbiscuit.

Divided into various categories, including Arts/Entertainment, Business & Celebrity, as well as UK News and World News, it contains many articles of interest to prospect researchers.

You can also get articles sent direct to your inbox. Cool.


Website of the Week #12 - Tech Soup

TechSoup provides a range of technology services for nonprofits, including news and articles, discussion forums, and discounted and donated technology products.


They have, for example, a comprehensive list of articles about using the internet going back some 8 years.


Google for non-profits launched

From the ARNOVA-L discussion list I learn that Google has launched a new resource, Google for non-profits.

The site features tutorials and examples of how non-profits use Google tools to operate more effectively.


Tip of the Week #17 - Searching older editions of the Sunday Times Rich List

This week's TOTW is courtesy of my old mucker, Finbar Cullen, who describes on his blog how you can access and search previous Sunday Times Rich Lists from 2002 to 2007.

Even more useful than a mask in a fart factory.


Website of the Week #11 - Tales from the Terminal Room

This week's WOTW is Karen Blakeman's Tales from the Terminal Room (tfttr).

tfttr is "a free newsletter for anyone who uses electronic media, and particularly the Internet, for locating information."

The newsletter appears roughly every two months and discusses a variety of search tools, information resources and other items of interest to researchers.  

Karen also has a blog, which is well worth reading.

You couldn't make it up

I wonder, is it very childish of me that I find it rather amusing that the wonderfully named Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive of the Directory of Social Change, has written a book called The Pleasure and the Pain?

Ooh, matron!


Tip of the Week #16 - Foreign Language Websites

From time to time in your researching adventures, you may come across a website intended for Johnny Foreigner. (You know, funny words, some of them written with strange symbols that bear little relation to what you or I would recognise as letters,*  that sort of thing).

This is especially likely to be the case if you are carrying out research into wealthy non-doms or foreign prospects. 

And unless you are a cunning linguist (he he - oh grow up) you are going to be stumped and not know whether you have stumbled upon a goldmine of information concerning your prospect or just another nugget of fools gold.

But help is at hand!

In the first instance you can use Babel Fish, which very kindly translates websites from foreign to English.

Or, if you prefer, you can use the translating abilities of Google

Or, better still, use both. Why? Because they can give markedly different translations of the same body of text.

For example, if you translate the following website (a Belgian restaurant where I shall be eating in a few weeks - snail ravioli is one of their specialities!) you get the following results (the first translation comes from Babel Fish, the second from Google):

The framework is irresistibly tempting and the fauna of the beginnings gradually made place with more marked customers in her choices and tastes culinary. In other words, one can be a restaurant "tendency" and nevertheless to propose a kitchen of quality. The chart of the wines is of an eclecticism particularly shining.


The setting is irresistibly seductive and fauna of the early days has gradually given way to a clientele more assertive in their choices and culinary tastes. In other words, there may be a restaurant "trends" nevertheless offer quality cuisine. The wine list is a particularly brilliant eclecticism.

Interesting, eh? And not a little confusing.

How about if you are one of those lucky people who can understand, or partially understand, another language, but who gets stuck with the odd word or phrase? 

In this case, you need lingro.

Lingro provides a translation for any of the words you don't know, just by clicking on them.


Unless they don't have a translation for the word you pick, then it's just frustrating, but this sort of thing should become more rare, as the site is developed.

* Unless you are foreign, of course, in which case they look just right! But we think they look funny. So there.

Rant of the Day

Why, oh why, oh why, do certain dimwits insist on calling Bob Geldof, Sir Bob Geldof?


Being Irish and not British (or from the Commonwealth), he was awarded an honorary knighthood and so is not eligible to use the term Sir. 


Do you ever hear people talking about Sir Bill Clinton, Sir Rudy Giuliani or Sir Bill Gates? No. But they too all have an honorary knighthood. So why call Geldof Sir Bob?!


It really niggles me that so many people who should know better, can get it so wrong. Especially when we, as researchers, have to be so careful to get our prospects' titles right. But perhaps they do know better, and are just being sycophantic, which is even worse, the fawning sycophants.


Still, I suppose I should be grateful he hasn't been awarded an honorary peerage, thus prompting ignoranti around the country to call him Lord Bob and, no doubt, style his waste-of-space daughters The Hon Trixie FagAsh, The Hon Lulu Monkeyspank and The Hon Slagwit Drunkentart, or whatever the hell their real names are.


Ooh, just checked Wikipedia, those are their real names. Hmm, lucky guess there.



Website of the Week #10 - Confidential Resource Blog

My website of the week this week is Richard McEachin's Confidential Resource.

His blog offers "valuable information about sources, methods and resources for professional and amateur Investigators and Researchers."

And having just spent some time looking through the archves, I can certainly agree.


I've got a bigger one than you have!

Research is a curious business.


How do you measure its effectiveness, its efficiency, or its productivity? How do you spot a good researcher or, more importantly perhaps, a bad one?


In a recent article for fumsi, Evaluating Researchers: Developing a Skills Matrix, Anja Thygesen, research manager with the Danish management consulting company Quartz Strategy Consultants, says:


We probably all have an idea of what a good researcher is capable of doing and what kind of skills that person possesses. We also know when we provide good quality and what kind of skills we use when doing this - or do we?


Thygesen raises what is, I think, a common problem in research; it is one thing to give a general description of what makes a good researcher and quite another to actually define or quantify what good research actually is, so that one is able, in an interview for example, to differentiate between those who are clearly good at researcher from those who merely give the appearance of being good, or so that one is able, for a particular researcher, to identify what their particular strengths and weaknesses are, so that you can help them to continue to develop the former whilst taking appropriate measures to strengthen the latter.



Many moons ago, when I was interviewed for a prospect research position, I was asked what the largest gift was that had arisen from my research. I had never been asked this question before (at least, not in a formal interview) and I have to say that it completely threw me.


The assumption behind it, I presume, is 'the larger the gift, the better the researcher.' But I have to say, having now thought about it at some length, that I do not think it a very good question to ask a researcher, if you wish to evaluate their level of skills and experience.


For one thing, I could simply have lied. I could have given some figure such as £1m and left it at that. They would not know, and Data Protection issues, not to say my own conscience, would not allow me to go into any detail; to divulge who the donor was. Given this point alone, you have to ask, why ask such a question?


But more significant, I think, is the underlying assumption that the higher the gift, the better the researcher – why should this be so?


I may be an excellent researcher, but have poor or inexperienced fundraisers; in which case, how can I be held responsible for their getting gifts of only £10,000 from prospects who may be capable of six or seven figure donations? (Especially if I have made them aware of the giving capacity of the prospects).


It may also be the case that my work experience has only ever been for organisations that have not had any research projects, building projects, etc. that required very large gifts, and so the fact that I have never carried out research that has lead to a six or seven figure donation is nothing to do with my own abilities and everything to do with the level of ask required of the organisation and their major donors.


(Of course, if I really have only worked with inexperienced fundraisers or carried out research for low cost projects, I could mention this in the interview, but how can I do this without coming across as a poor researcher who is making excuses and blaming others for my own deficiencies?)


On the other hand, what if I can truthfully answer that my research has lead to a £1m gift? What does that tell us about my research abilities. Well, not necessarily very much.


Let us suppose that I discover on our fundraising database one of the wealthiest people on the Sunday Times Rich List and pass on this information to my major donor fundraisers in a prospect meeting (before I have carried out any further research). And let us suppose that one of them has cultivated him in a previous job and still has a means of getting in touch with him, which he does, and which leads, over time, to a seven figure donation (without any significant research on my part being required). Whilst I can justifiably argue that it was my research that initially identified the prospect (assuming that searching a database for a few names from the Sunday Times Rich List counts as research), how much responsibility can I take that it was my research that lead to the donation? Not very much, quite frankly.


OK, this is an artificial case; but it is a possible scenario, and it would allow me to give an impressive answer to the interviewer's question. And it would tell them absolutely nothing about my research capabilities. 



Now, I do not wish to deny that in some cases, larger donations do require more work on the part of the researcher. And the greater your experience, the greater the chance that your research will have lead to a very large donation. Given this, I can see why someone could come to the conclusion that one measure of a researcher's skills and experience is the size of the largest donation that their research has lead to. But it should be clear from my arguments above that it is not a good measure of the researcher's skills and experience. (It is probably a better measure of a fundraiser's skills and experience, quite frankly.)


Ask the question, by all means, but just bear in mind that it is far from ideal and that there are better questions to ask. Something like the following, for example:


Please give an example of how your research has lead to a major donation, giving due consideration to the various processes you followed, sources you used, and any difficulties you encountered and how you overcame them.


Depending upon the answer the person gives, you then have the opportunity to ask them about their relationship with their fundraisers, how they identify prospects, their time-management skills, and a whole host of other relevant factors that will let you know whether they are a decent researcher or not.



In her article, Thygesen suggests developing a skills matrix to evaluate researcher; a detailed and comprehensive approach but one which she describes as "a long and time consuming process." But she adds:


But if you take the time and involve your team it can be a useful way of getting a clear picture of your team members' profiles, what to expect from them, and their potential career path. It also communicates to your team their main priorities and what is expected of them. If you develop and implement this skills matrix you will ensure that your team members are aware of the requirements for promotion, and you are able to communicate key deliverables to both customers and management.


It is a fascinating article, well worth reading and possibly, with due consideration to your own organisation's needs, implementing.


Website of the Week #9 - Ian Smith's iBlog

This week's website of the week is Ian Smith's iBlog.

Canada-based Ian describes his blog as:

"an outlet for individuals who wish to know more about internet research for business and dealing economic development purposes. At times, Ian brings his cynicism to blog posts when he needs to rant or assess a new tool."

Ah, nothing like a good rant, and I do love a bit of cynicism.

Recent articles of particular interest to prospect researchers include a discussion of how to search Facebook and searching the invisible web, and there are further articles of interest in the archives.


Superfluous FAQs

The Garfield Weston Foundation has a rather nifty website, but I do wonder at one piece of information that they provide - the website address.

Surely if you already have their website open, the last piece of information you need is...the address for their website?

Most bizarre...


Tip of the Week #15 - City AM

City AM, the free newspaper handed out at various stations in and around the City of London has finally got a decent website.

"About bloody time!", I hear you cry. (Either that, or "City what?")

For those of you not in the know, City AM is a daily, free newspaper with financial news (and a bit of other stuff) and invaluable as a 'what's going on in the City?' resource.

It was through City AM that I learned about the websites Roll on Friday and Here is the City. Both excellent research resources, providing news, information & gossip about City types not found elsewhere.

I read it religiously every day, and now that they have a website - you can too! Cor, how lucky is that?

Well, OK. Not very I admit. Still, better than a smack in the eye with a wet kipper.


Website of the Week #8 - PrimoPDF

There are times when it's nice to present/print/email a document in a more professional manner than a Word document, and at times like that, PDF is an excellent alternative (and is compatible across different computer platforms).

But what if you don't have the necessary software to produce PDF documents? Fear not, for help is at hand.

PrimoPDF is a free software package that allows you to convert documents in over 80 different formats to PDF. Or, if you don't want to download the software (or are unable to), you can use their online conversion service PrimoOnline.



Website of the Week #7 - Finbar Cullen's Blog

After a lay off of over a year, Finbar Cullen (for it is he) is blogging again. Cor.

The cause of (or perhaps that should be blame for!) the long absence (a world record between blog entries?) can be put down to Howard Lake and the time he has spent overhauling UKFundraising. But the haul is over, and Finbar is blogging again.

This now takes the number of prospect research blogs that I know of to four. Mine, Finbar's, Maryrose Larkin's Northwest Research Blog and Deborah Drucker's Adventures in Prospect Research.

I know, impressive, eh?

Well, not really.

If anyone knows of any others (others who are currently blogging, that is), I'd love to know of them.


Website of the Week #6 - Watch that Page

# I like blogging, I like blogging, I like blogging and I like to blog!

...except during Christmas and the new year, when I find it all too much effort. Hence the long gap between entries recently. Oh, and a little thing called Researchers in Fundraising, which has been taking up a little of my time.

But that's enough moaning - there's blogging to be done.

This week's WOTW is, which "enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you."

I know, cor blimey!

Oh, and it's free, unless you monitor a large number of pages, then they will contact you for a fee - but we're talking about someone who gets several hundred updates a day - and what prospect researcher has that much free time that they could read them all?

PIN Number

There are few things that annoy me more than unnecessary words with acronyms.

I'm thinking of PIN Number (Personal Identification Number Number) HIV Virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus Virus) and LCD Display (Liquid Crystal Display Display). There are more lovely examples here.  

And now I have found a new example - of sorts.

After a gap of some five years, I am once again using Lexis Nexis as my news archive, and I've discovered some lovely new features which were not available when last I used it. Most pertinently, there is a new source to search - Web Blogs - as you can see here:

Yup, that's right, Web Blogs. 

Now, given that the word Blog, is a shortening of Weblog, what we have here is in fact Web Weblogs. 



Oh, Happy New Year by the way.

Give and let give

Another day, another wealth report, this time from the Policy Exchange, the centre-right think tank.

The report, Give and let give: Building a culture of philanthropy in the financial services industry, is described by the Policy Exchange as "the most comprehensive report into the state and future of British philanthropy in the City this decade."

I know, cor blimey.

The report is "designed to stimulate high-earning City professionals to embark on a philanthropic journey," which is no bad thing, to say the least. Although how many of these high-earning City professionals will have either the time or the inclination to read through all 132 pages of the report is a moot point, to say the least, particularly at this festive time of year.

Still, with contributions from the likes of Michael Hintze, Nicola Horlick, Shaks Ghosh, Sir Peter Lampl, Sir Tom Hunter, Stanley Fink, Theresa Lloyd, Lord Joffe and Nigel Harris, amongst many others, it certainly deserves to be read.



Fun and games with Google

Why, of why, does Google list the number of pages it claims to have found when you search for something [e.g. Results 1-10 of about 345,000 pages] when you can only ever look at the first 1000 pages it finds?


What IS the point? Who cares if it found 3000 or 3,000,000 pages if you can only see the first 1000?


Perhaps they wish to catch out unwary journalists?


For example, a recent article in Wealth-Bulletin discussed the number of results one gets when searching for private banks on Google. This line in particular caught my eye:


"Third on the list is the search term "Julius Baer", which uncovered 660,000 references - and most of those look to be associated with the bank."


Most of those look to be associated with the bank? Most of them? You mean you checked all 660,000 references?


Even if we assume that you can check one page per second (just time for a quick glance to see if it looks like it is associated with the bank and to make a note of this) it would still take someone over a week – counting night and day – to check 660,000 records. Now that's dedication.


Or perhaps just ignorance.


For even if someone did put aside the time to look at all 660,000 pages, they would not actually be able to do so as Google does not list that many pages – it only lists the first 1000 pages of your search. (Something the journalist would have known, had he really tried to look at all 660,000 pages, rather than just pretending to do so or implying that he had.)


So, why does Google list such pointless search results?


Er...I really have no idea.


Unless, of course, it's just some shabby sales gimmick - gasp! Surely not!

Tip of the Week #14 - Digital Look

Digital Look, a "leading financial information and news service" provides a wealth of information about companies, directors and, most wonderfully, their shareholders.


If you register with them, they will send you regular emails of peoples' share dealings (amongst other things). Which could prove very useful for you.


For example, check out this email from November:



Hmmm, Mr Jonathan Howell is not doing too badly is he? That £12 million he's got for his LSE shares must be burning a hole in his pocket.


So why not help him out by looking him up on your database and seeing if he's a supporter of yours? If he is - if he's warm to your cause - then you will have taken the first steps towards relieving him of some of his hard earned cash, and wouldn't that be a nice Christmas present?

5 things for the millionaire who has everything

Stuck for something to get your favourite millionaire this Christmas?


How about one of the following must-have items...


To start with, at a measely £100,000, the holiday of a lifetime!


A snip at twice the price!


Too cheap? Well OK, I have just the thing. Buy him his very own jet!


I know what you're thinking. Every millionaire worth his salt already has one of those.


True, but how many have one that is Supersonic? And at only £40m it's a bargain! Buy him two!


But even so, planes are soooo last year aren't they? For that special UHNW person in your life, it can only be a luxury submarine. And the best news it that they start at £50m. I know - they're practically giving them away!


But I sense that you and your capitalist pig generous donor have a yearning for the really good things in life. So what you need is obvious. For £145m, you very own Airbus.


And if none of those goodies tickle your millionaire’s fancy, how about suggesting that he spend the night as a prostitute? 


I kid you not. Check the link (work friendly!).


Wealthy people, eh? Weirdos.


Website of the Week #5 - The more you give...

An article on the rise of philanthropy amongst the City of London's big-wigs in today's City AM (a free paper which is unfortunately not available online) has lead me to this week's WOTW:

The more you give...the more you get

Founded by Mike Dickson (also co-founder of children's charity, Whizz-Kidz) after he wrote a book of the same name, The More you give... offers advice to philanthropists and corporates looking to donate to charity.

From their website:

Whether your interest is as a company or individual, the principles are the same.

  • Research/audit/getting to know you
  • Setting the strategy – including introductions to relevant tax specialists, an overview of different guidance and donor organisations.
  • The search for suitable causes
  • Personal introductions
  • Structured pitches
  • A planned partnership
  • Involvement and reviews

So, rather like a cross between New Philanthropy Capital and The Big Give.

Or perhaps not. Either way, yet another organisation dedicated to parting the wealthy from their excess cash, which can't be bad for us charities.

Oh, and for those of you going to the Researchers in Fundraising Autumn Conference tomorrow - see you there!

Tip of the Week #13 - Reference Websites

The ebusiness website eBizMBA has produced a great list of the top 55 reference websites, based upon "popularity, content depth, uniqueness, accuracy, and ease of use."

Scroll down to the bottom and you can see a whole load of other lists, some of which, such as the 20 Most Popular Celebrity Sites and the 25 Most Popular Business Websites, may also be helpful to your research.


Website of the Week #4 - Internet Resources Newsletter

This week's site of the week is the Internet Resources Newslettera free monthly electronic newsletter, edited by Heriot-Watt University Library staff Roddy MacLeod, Catherine Ure and Marion Kennedy and published by Heriot-Watt University.

The newsletter aims to raise awareness of new sources of information on the Internet, and although the focus is on  engineering, science, and social science resources, it also contains resources of interest to researchers. The latest edition, for example, includes links to the indispensable fResource, the comprehensive Google Guide, and (a new one to me) the newspaper search site, Chipwrapper.

Tip of the week #12 - Wealth Reports

In the last few years there have been an increasing number of reports published into the wealthy and their charitable giving. These really are a must read for any researcher.


Amazingly, the first major British study into giving by the wealthy, Why Rich People Give, was only published in 2004. But since then, numerous reports have been published in the UK.


Here are a few recent examples from the last couple of months:


Researching the Very Wealthy, National Centre for Social Research

The 21st Century Donor, NfpSynergy

The changing face of Philanthropy: today, tomorrow and beyond, Barclays Wealth

Wealth and Philanthropy: the views of those who advise the rich, Philanthropy UK


If you want to keep abreast of the latest reports, you should regularly check Barclays Wealth fResourceHM Revenue & Customs, New Philanthropy CapitalNfpSynergy, Philanthropy UK and Third Sector.

Website of the Week #3 - pipl

As recommended (or not, in one case!) by those lovely peeps on PRSPCT-L, a new search engine!

pipl styles itself as "the most comprehensive people search on the web". Well, you would, wouldn't you?

How can it justify such a bold statement? Unlike other search engines, it claims to be able to search the deep web (aka the invisible web) for information.

I know - cor blimey!

Anyway, as with all such resources, the truth is in the searching, so what are you waiting for? Gordon the Goforit!


VIP 'Big Three' Comparison

From Pam Foster, Editor of VIP:


Next month (November) VIP will publish its annual comparative review of the 'Big Three' - Factiva, LexisNexis and Thomson.


Thomson Business Intelligence's News Research product is being discontinued at the end of 2007 and many users are wondering which service to migrate to. As such, maybe you are currently, or are planning, to carry out your own trials of some or all of the 'Big Three' products. If so, please do get in touch as there may be areas on which we can compare notes.


In order to make the comparison as meaningful as possible I'd also like to invite you to suggest possible areas for research – country coverage, foreign-language indexing, cross-file searching, etc – anything that you'd find useful.


Please either share you comments at the VIP Lounge or email me directly. All feedback will, of course, be treated in the strictest confidence.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Regards, Pam Foster



Last year's report was excellent - very comprehensive (30 pages long!) and lucid. Oh, and it included a contribution from yours truly (woo hoo!), so Pam is being sincere when she asks for people who are currently trialling one of the products to get in touch. Do it!


Oh, and let her have any suggestions for areas of research. Here are some off the top of my head: a comparison of the news alert facilities on a range/combination of search topics that researchers may use (philanthropy, major gift/donor, charitable donation, etc.), a comparison of the information brought up by a search for a specific company (small, medium and large, local, international, etc.) or, a matter dear to our hearts, a comparison of the price reductions on offer to charities, especially smaller charities.


If you can think of some others - email them to Pam.

The New Philanthropy?

There was an excellent article in yesterday's Times about the so-called 'new philanthropy'.  


Paul Palmer, Professor of Voluntary Sector Management at Cass Business School and an independent charities consultant to the bank UBS Wealth Management, dispels a few myths surrounding philanthropy; most obviously, that there is anything very new about the way philanthropy is currently carried out compared to how it has been carried out for the last 100 years.  


Here are a couple of pertinent quotes:


In the past year I have been working with the bank, UBS Wealth Management, in the development of its philanthropy service for clients. I have noticed no differences between literature charting the work of past philanthropists and the desire of wealthy people to give today.


Problems, such as how to give - and by that I mean how to give effectively - have been long cited by the original Rockefeller. Grant-making has equally been around for a long time.


I recommend reading the whole article - it's not too long, so do it RIGHT NOW!


Makes a pleasant change from reading the usual guff about philanthropy.



1000 Most Inflential Londoners


In other news, the Evening Standard has now put online their list of London's Most Influential People 2007, published as a 'glossy supplement' with the newspaper yesterday (I've seen glossier, quite frankly, but then again it was free).


Misadventure Philanthropy

According to a story in Third Sector, venture capital group Doughty Hanson has established a venture philanthropy fund that aims to "ensure charitable donations made by wealthy individuals are spent more effectively."

What is it with these venture philanthropists and their erroneous belief that until they came along, donations made by wealthy individuals were not spent effectively?!

Arrogant, ill-informed gits. Makes me mad. However, since I've moaned about this in more detail elsewhere, I shall say nothing more at this time. Grrrr.


The Big Give goes live

Philanthropy website The Big Give has gone live and is now ready to accept projects and promote them to wealthy donors.

To get your projects uploaded, visit:

and then...

1. Enter your charity details and click "Register"

2. Click on "Add a new project"

3. Add your project details - keep it short and sweet

What are you waiting for - go for it!


And in other news - my site has now received over 4000 visits! Woo hoo, not a bad birthday present methinks.

Website of the Week #2 - And it's my birthday!

It's my birthday today!

Oh yes. I am 29 - again.

I've had several nice birthday messages, including one from Everyclick, who say:

"Happy Birthday!

Thank you for using everyclick to support charity."

Which is nice and personal, isn't it? Ahem.

Anyway, given that they "provide a no cost fundraising facility to 276428 charities" I thought I'd give them a quick plug.

But, as it's my birthday, there is not just one but two, count them, TWO websites of the week this week.

The second website is NewsExplorer.

You can read in detail how the site works here but basically it compiles news stories from around the world in various languages (should you be a cunning linguist) and allows you to find out pertinent information about a particular person including: 


- variant name spellings found in the news, both in the same and in different languages;

- titles and phrases found around the name: these tell you about the function, nationality, etc. of the person;

- a picture of this person;

- a list of the most recent articles mentioning this person (in the selected language);

- a list of related persons and organisations, i.e. names that are frequently mentioned together with the first person.

The information is a bit hit and miss with some people, but over the coming months it could become a very useful resource.


Tip of the week #11 - empowering others

How often have you been asked one or more of the following:


"Can you find me the postcode for this address please?"

"What's the phone number for that company again?"

"Oh, I can never find anything on Google, could you do it for me please?"


Do you get asked these sorts of questions by your department? Pain in the arse, aren't they?


Honestly, how hard is it to check a postcode on the Royal Mail website, find a phone number on or type a word or two in Google? They're all a piece of piss to use. Let's face it: it's easier to use Google than it is to empty your bladder and most people seem to manage that without any difficulty.


So, here is this week's tip. The next time someone asks you for something that a trained chimp could find, don't just give them the information - show them how they can find it for themselves. Give them a list of 5 or so websites that you regularly use to find piss-easy information of the sort described above.


Here's a few that I use:


"What's the phone number for that company/person?"


British Telecom  


"What's the postcode for this address?"


Royal Mail


"What do the letters PhD stand for?"


Acronym Finder


"How do you spell Chrysanthemum/what's another word for lazy?"


Your Dictionary 


"Is Fred Bloggs dead/married/gay?"




Internet Movie Database


"What's the correct title for Lord Bloggs?"


Times Style Guide


Wikipedia Forms of Address


Is Dylakumara Wickamarachchi in the Sunday Times Rich List?


Sunday Times Rich List



It's just like that old saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll become part of a rapidly declining industry, forced into poverty as fish stocks collapse around him."


Or something like that. I may have misquoted it a little.


Gap between Rich and Super Rich Growing

If you have a couple of minutes spare, check out this breaking story: Are America's Rich Falling Behind the Super-Rich?

Thanks to Matt Ide for pointing this one out.


Debrett's People of Today

I just came across this review of Debrett's People of Today on and had to share it; it is brilliant.

It was with some trepidation that I first opened the pages of "Debrett's People of Today"; the book is an impressive tome, consisting of a list of half-famous captains of industry, aging judges and BBC Board Members. Not necessarily the most inspiring of reads, one would naturally assume, however this is the book's devilish ingenuity, as it seemed to me fairly obvious that the work is a satire on conventions of what makes people important. The device of "listing" the names, rather than say, arranging them higgledy-piggledy across the page may seem to hark back to the antiquated, and over-ornate literary conventions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it is precisely this that makes the work so clever, as in the same way that Joyce interspersed Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake with apparently random-seeming lists, the meaning of which became clear when set against the background of the narrative, Ms. Gullen and Mr. Sefton (the "Editors") have done the same, creating a bizarre, and totally original, stream-of-consciousness type narrative, where instead of words and ideas, the monads used are actual people (or at least descriptions of them). I must say, however, that the deceit began to pall in the middle section, and the close was far too post-modern for my liking. However, the effrontery of the authors in challenging traditional narrative form in such a brazen way surely deserves more praise than the flaws deserve criticism.

Overall, I'm looking forward to the next one, rumours on the internet are that it may become more ribald and coarse than this, rather genteel version, if so, I will be disappointed, Sefton and Gullen have trod the line between satire and burlesque very carefully, and I can only assume that any "dumbing down" of the next edition would be due to commercial pressures to make the book more approachable.

Quite wonderful. Wish I'd written it myself.

Barclay's Wealth Report

Barclays Wealth has published a study on the future of philanthropy entitled The Changing Face of Philanthropy: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.


It examines the current climate of giving amongst the wealthy, what issues the individuals and the charities face, and how all of this is set to change in the next decade.


Participants in the study included over 500 High Net Worth individuals holding over £100,000 in investable assets who provided quantitative data, 15 Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals holding over £3million in investable assets who completed in-depth qualitative interviews and a Panel of five expert Thought Leaders, including Peter Beckwith, the multimillionaire philanthropist, Salvatore LaSpada, Chief Executive of the Institute for Philanthropy, Susan Weingarten, a fundraising consultant for Charities, Brian Smouha, trustee for the Institute of Philanthropy and Guy Davies, Head of Charities at Barclays Wealth.


It makes for an interesting read - here are a few choice quotes to whet your appetite (or to save you the trouble of reading it, I suppose, if you're a lazy tosser).  


Our interviews with UHNW individuals revealed there are a multitude of reasons why today's wealthy give to charities; however, at the heart of the matter these reasons are driven by a varying combination of four dynamics: a sense of responsibility; out of compassion; as a way to cleanse their conscience, and through a direct link to the cause.


The source of wealth currently influences the quantum* of the wealthy's donation, but it will also influence how they give. The Panel has obseved that younger groups who have come into wealth by selling their company are less inclined to simply donate - they want to see charity like another project in their company. 


Currently, UHNWIs are happy to socially and publicly discuss which charities, events or causes they are associated with, but the how, why and how much of their monetary donations remain much more private. For some this even excludes close family members who may not approve of the charities donated to, or the amounts donated - further evidence of the very private nature of UK philanthropy.


Currently the wealthy in the UK largely donate cash rather than time. However, only 20 per cent of the affluent in our survey think that giving money is better than giving time. The main constraint here is the lack of time that many of the younger, working wealthy have to give.


Much of the time given historically has been associated with generalist skills. In fact, the suggestion of lending their professional or entrepreneurial expertise to a charitable organisation was often met with surprise by individuals, having not considered this before. 


There are numerous reasons behind the wealthy's initial decision to start donating regularly and/or more generously to charities, currently largely driven by a sense of 'proximity' whether that be personal or geographic. However, for most, the increased participation is instigated following an illness, accident, or event involving themselves, their family, a friend, or member of the community: this often gives them insight into the good work done by a particular institution or charity.


For many of today's wealthy, the process of choosing a charity or cause is not yet a formalised process but, as mentioned above, is often ad-hoc and based on emotional feelings. In terms of reviewing donations, most individuals simply rely on their accountant to ask them annually if they wish to continue charity payments. Other than this involvement, individuals prefer their decisions to be personal: the suggestion of receiving any sort of professional advice was met with caution, as they do not wish to be swayed in any particular direction. In addition, they doubt the neutrality and independence of many intermediaries.


Despite the growth of philanthropy, surprisingly our research found that the wealthy rarely had a quantifiable measure of success for any of their donations or work; some preferred qualitative feedback such as visits and receiving letters or photographs.


Looking to tomorrow, the experts believe we will see a shift amongst philanthropists to a more strategic approach to giving which sees philanthropists addressing the root of the problem as opposed to giving directly to the 'end cause'.


Our Panel highlighted the need for a more professional approach to be taken by charities as a whole in the future. This should be focused on, in particular, better customer service. This has gratitude and clear feedback at its core, but can also extend to site visits, presentations and invitations to events. The Panel all mentioned the importance of relationship-building and engaging with donors on an ongoing basis to better build a sense of involvement.


Our survey revealed that 64 per cent of the wealthy believe that the Government could do more to encourage philanthropic giving. There are a number of favourable tax breaks which the Government gives, but many did not know about them or were at first introduced to them via their accountants.


* I think they mean 'size', the illiterate twats.

Website of the Week #1

Following on from my post the other week about the Top Ten Free Resources, I have decided to have a regular new feature - Website of the Week! 

Cue loud fanfare, flashing lights, dancing girls in unnecessarily tight tops and short skirts, various assorted cast members of Casualty, Coronation Street and Eastenders and, of course, Ken Livingstone.

And for this week's website of the week, what else but Matt Ide's excellent fResource.

Although just launched, I've no doubt that it will become an invaluable resource for researchers and fundraisers alike. There's a wealth of information on it already, and this is sure to grow as we contribute to it. And when I say 'we', I don't just mean Matt, myself, Peter, Finbar, etc. but all of you as well.

fResource is designed to be an online community, and to achieve that we need as much participation from fundraisers and researchers as possible. So go on and check out the website and don't be afraid to send us your questions, comments and feedback. Or your money. I'm always amenable to receiving money. Or shares - except in Northern Rock. 


21st Century Donor

nfpSynergy have just published a new report, The 21st Century Donor, which is "the conclusion of several years of work by nfpSynergy researching and understanding donors in a whole variety of guises".

The report as a whole makes for interesting and sometimes surprising reading, but the section on Major Donors (page 30) will be of most relevance to researchers.


Tip of the week #10 - Top Ten Free Resources

Actually, I could have picked more than ten, but ten is such a nice round number, don't you think? 


Produce twice daily free email alerts covering wealth and philanthropy news and analysis from around the world.


Free search facility of UK companies and company directors. OK, it's not DASH, but it is waaaaay cheaper.


Founded by journalists who recognized the need for better ways to visualize relationships, Muckety uses Java technology to produce interactive maps showing connections between people, businesses and organizations.


Founded in 1927, this series of directories now contain over 30,000 performers, including actors and actresses, child artists, presenters, stunt artists and dancers. Online search facility.


Comprehensive list of links to UK annual reports on the internet. Simple registration required.


A directory of company issued CSR, Sustainability, and Environment reports from around the world. They offer access to the very latest reports as they are published, and provide an archive of reports for each company featured.


Comprehensive Information and advice about all aspects of European philanthropy.


Useful articles about salaries & bonuses, covering the banking, accounting, securities & related finance fields.


Provides access to 'millions of articles from thousands of top publications' with archives dating back to 1984 (some of the content is fee-based).


A huge array of research resources on the Supporting Advancement website.



A bit of fun for a Friday afternoon

Ten signs that your Director is clueless about Prospect Research:

  1. When you tell him that you’re getting Lexis Nexis he replies that he drives a Toyota.
  2. He thinks that a prospect's liquid assets refer to his wine cellar.
  3. He doesn't understand the need for screening because he hasn't seen a mosquito in the office in months.
  4. When you tell him that you've got DASH, he replies 'OK, see you tomorrow.'
  5. When you talk about a prospect's inclination, he asks why you need to know their sexual orientation.
  6. When you tell him that you really like Raiser's Edge he replies that he doesn't know them but thinks his daughter saw them at Glastonbury.
  7. When you mention joining APRA, he expresses surprise that she would want to interview you and says she thinks her talk show is overrated.
  8. When you tell him that you have some concerns about the Data Protection Act he nods sagely, asks how they compared to the other acts, and then starts reminiscing about the time he went to the Edinburgh Festival.
  9. He refers to you as 'our resident stalker.'
  10. Despite being incapable of finding his own arse, he still expects you to be able to find the sort of confidential information that would normally require the combined talents of MI5 and MI6.

 This list was inspired by (and partly plagiarised from) a list by Armando Zumaya on PRSPCT-L.


The Great Charity Rip-off!


A thought provoking article in The Business this week, entitled The great charity rip-off.


The author, Jon Ashworth, argues that charities need to be more accountable, and that may be so, although in my opinion he fails to make his case as he provides little or no actual evidence to support his many claims.


In fact, in the end the article just comes across as a series of wild accusations by a disgruntled ex-donor.


Here are just some of the unsubstantiated claims:


"waste and inefficiency is even greater than these figures would suggest."


"there is a wealth of…anecdotal evidence pointing to the cavalier way in which big charities treat donors funds." 


"Charities place large orders for goods without asking for competitive quotations. Staff on overseas assignments are given generous daily allowances on top of their salaries; invariably they stay in the most expensive hotels."


"Charities conduct their activities behind a veil of secrecy, operating, perhaps, at only 60% efficiency."


A "culture of waste...has set in among big charities."


As if that was not irritating enough, some of his claims are so obviously wrong, you wonder what planet he was on when he wrote the article:


"Charities...have no incentive to streamline operations."


Really? So maximising the amount of money that we spend on our particular cause is not an incentive? Knowing that for every £1 you waste, £1 less will be spent on the cause to which you dedicate your working life is not an incentive?


"There are no external stakeholders to demand improvements."


What about the donors themselves? Anyone who’s ever worked in a charity’s customer services department, as I have done, knows that donors regularly demand improvements to the way in which we operate. No stakeholders, indeed. We have the most committed, concerned stakeholders, as it's their money that fundamentally underpins our work.


(Rather bizarrely, later in the article Ashworth admits that "Charities have many stakeholders, from the public, to companies, to government." So why on Earth does he think that none of these are capable of demanding improvements? It's most odd.)


Anyway, I do recommend that you read the article, despite my criticisms. You may find that you agree with it.


Tip of the Week #9 - Country Properties

Given that someone in a £5,000,000 property is more likely to be wealthy than someone in a £50,000 property, one tried and tested way of identifying wealthy prospects is through their property.


One easy way to do this is to look for people who live in large country houses, as they often end in one of the following: Abbey, Castle, Court, Hall, Manor or Park. (E.g. Lacock Abbey, Sudeley Castle, Coughton Court, Norman Hall, Owlpen Manor & Dyrham Park).


So, simply search your database (or to be specific, just the first address field) for Abbey, Castle, Court, Hall, Manor or Park, to bring up as many large country properties as you can.


This will also, of course, bring up a large number of unwanted addresses. I.e. anyone on your database living in Manor Road, Castle Street, Park Hill, and so on, but it will also bring up (if they are on your database!) various large country properties.


After that - it's up to you!


Stalkers R Us

There's an interesting article in Time about the future of information gathering on the web: Online Snooping Gets Creepy

(Thanks to Jeff Walker of the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for posting the link on PRSPCT-L).

I am now off work until the 13th August, so until then, happy researching!


Philanthropists' tax breaks

According to a recent piece in philanthropists who donate their priceless artifacts to the UK's museums when they die, "deserve tax breaks in return throughout their lifetimes":

"The UK government faces a call to extend a scheme that allows ultra-wealthy philanthropists who promise treasures to the nation’s museums after their death, to receive tax concessions during their lifetimes.

Last year museums in Britain received precious objects worth more than £25.3 million ($51 million), including a diamond tiara, paintings and vintage steamboats, in lieu of inheritance tax.

The Acceptance in Lieu panel, which is lobbying the government to extend the scheme, said the generosity of those ultra-HNW donors needs to be stimulated by tax concessions if they are to fill the funding gap on behalf of national institutions."


Am I missing something here?


Philanthropists can already donate treasures to the nation "in lieu of inheritance tax," so they are already getting a pretty hefty tax break, given how crippling inheritance tax can be. Do they really need, or rather, deserve, further tax incentives?

I don't see why.

Incidentally, produce a Philanthropist of the Week, which is well worth monitoring, as is their richmonitor service. Thanks to Finbar Cullen for pointing this one out.


Tip of the Week #8 - Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites allow users to create a profile of themselves and then get in contact with other people who have also created a profile, usually friends, work colleagues and family, but also complete strangers.


You can search for people on these sites and, depending upon the site and the level of content that the person makes publicly available, find out about them, their work, their friends, and so on. A bit hit and miss, but can sometimes be useful. And, as Bryan Miller has recently blogged, the average MySpace and Facebook user is now in their mid-thirties, so these sites will I'm sure become an increasingly useful resource for researchers.


Here are a few of the more well known networking sites:


Friends Reunited


Popular British site which has a search facility which allows you to search for people's profiles. Also has sites in other countries which are listed on




Another well known site that also has a search facility which allows you to search for people's profiles.




Popular with schoolchildren especially, although it is trying to expand to encourage adults to join. Does not have a search facility, but you can search the site using Google.

I.e. [ search term ]




A very fast growing site. Does not have a search facility, but again you can search the site using Google.

I.e. [ search term ]




A much more business oriented networking site than the others, which allows you to search for people's profiles on the site. May become a very useful research tool in the future, if more people are persuaded to use it.


A list of social networking sites can be found on Wikipedia.

New website for wealthy philanthropists

Could this be the end of traditional Major Donor fundraising as we know it?

OK, probably not, but an interesting story all the same (from today's ThirdSector):

Website will help richest to donate

The Reed Foundation is to launch a website that allows wealthy philanthropists wanting to donate between £100,000 and £10m to search for charitable projects.

Oxfam, the Red Cross and the NSPCC are among the charities that are interested in uploading projects to when it launches in September.

Wealthy donors will be able to view projects that are looking for funding and search by the amount of funding needed, sector, location and type of beneficiary.

Once they have chosen a project, they will be provided with the appropriate contact number at the charity - for example, the chief executive's number if they want to make a donation of £10m. They will then be able to make phased payments over five years.

The foundation, which was set up by recruitment company Reed, is planning a £100,000 launch to the voluntary sector, which will include a direct-mail initiative to the top 20,000 charities.

Direct mailings to wealthy potential donors and events in the City are also planned for this year. UK-registered charities can upload for free details of projects that require funding.

Alec Reed, founder of the Reed recruitment company, will participate personally and distribute £1m in the first year.

The project will form partnerships with companies including private banking firm Coutts, to engage wealthy prospective donors. Thirty per cent of the UK's high-wealth customers bank with Coutts, according to a Reed Foundation spokesman.

Americans vs Britons

There's an interesting article in today's Independent: The Big Question: Why do wealthy Americans donate so much to charity and rich Britons so little?

It's not exactly ground-breaking, but worth reading all the same.


Tip of the Week #7 - Getting feedback about your profiles

No matter how detailed your research, there is always the nagging doubt, when you complete/present a prospect's profile to your colleagues: have I missed something? (Or, more to the point, have I missed something bloody obvious? To err is human after all, especially if you are as busy as most of us researchers are.)

And, of course, there is no easy way to find out. Unless, that is, you show the profile to the prospect him/herself and ask them to comment. And this is what I have recently done, and it is something that I cannot recommend too highly.

OK, I didn't actually show a profile to a prospect - bit of a cheat there. What I did do was prepare a profile for an acquaintance of mine as if she was a prospect, and then ask her to comment on it.

I was hoping, I must admit, to wow her with my expertise and guile (as she is by no means hugely visible) and she was impressed (of course!) but my main motivation was to find out what I had missed. Either because it was not possible to find it, or through my own doziness. And I was not disappointed (I am all too human, it would seem). One piece of information I had missed in particular was pretty obvious and I should have picked it up through a Google search (as she did, when she showed me what it was). But there were some other more subtle pieces of information I should have at least considered, but didn't.

For example, she pointed out that her husband was one of the governors of a local school and that several of her neighbours (i.e. they live in the same village) were wealthy and/or well connected, including a senior board member of a national supermarket. Now, how much of this I would have been able to find out on my own I don't know (and I have yet to find the time to do so), but the point is it didn't even occur to me to try to look into this, dullard that I am.

And yet it should have done.

I should have seen from her address that she lived in a small village and that she (or her husband) would therefore be far more likely to be involved in the local school and to know who her neighbours and fellow villagers are, than those of us who live in larger towns and cities (or, if she did not know them, to have a far greater opportunity - in the local pub, at the village fete, etc. - to get to know them if I had pointed out to her who they were and where they lived).

So, the lesson to learn here is, not just to look out for those prospects who live in villages, but rather, to consider what you may take for granted or ignore in your profiling that you should not.

And how better to find this out than to write a profile for a suitably cooperative friend or acquaintance and ask for their feedback. Unless you are a far better person than I, there is sure to be something you have missed, perhaps not immediately obvious, which should have occurred to you to consider. And your future research can only be the better for it.  


Cats, fat cats, and very obese cats.

According to a story in yesterday's Evening Standard some 85% of Britain's super-rich do not pay any income tax.

Surprised? I am. In fact, I'd say I'm flabbergasted, shocked, disgusted, and, quite frankly, very annoyed.

According to information obtained by the Evening Standard under the Freedom of Information Act, of the 400 or so people thought to earn £10m or more, just 65 declared taxable earnings. 65!

Analysts say this means as much as £2bn a year is lost to Treasury coffers.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those "let's raise higher rate income tax to 90%, nationalise everything & trash McDonalds, Starbucks and all those other representatives of corporate globalisation" leftie types. Oh no. Far from it in fact.

But I do believe in responsibility. And it is pretty clear that many of the super rich are shirking theirs under the cloak of legality.

By this phrase, I mean that as they are avoiding paying income tax through perfectly legal means, they think that it is a perfectly acceptable course of action.

And let's be clear on this; despite the Standard's use of such inflammatory phrases as 'sophisticated tax dodges' and 'legal loopholes' they are all employing perfectly legitimate (and in some cases, quite obvious) means to minimise the tax that they pay.

But just because a course of action is legally acceptable it does not follow that it is morally acceptable. 

By opting out of paying the income tax that the rest of us have to pay, the super rich are shirking their responsibilities just as surely as the Government would be doing if it decided to take no further action in this matter.

But what action should it take?

Shame the people concerned into paying more tax? It would be a start.

Change the laws to make such tax avoidance impossible? Possibly, at least as far as some of the more out-dated tax laws are concerned.

Bring in tax incentives linked to charitable giving, to encourage the super-rich to give away some of the money that they ought to be paying in income tax. Why not? They'd be more likely to part with it if they had a say in how it would be spent.

But what the government should not do, whatever else it decides, is nothing.


Remembering the dead


According to a story on UK FundraisingMuchloved, the charity that assists people who have suffered bereavement through the death of a family member or friend, has set up an online memorial site where charities can solicit in memoriam donations in a sympathetic and appropriate manner.


Muchloved aims to help charities raise new funds in a respectful way whilst offering their supporters an opportunity to celebrate lives and remember loved ones.


Whilst I agree that this is an excellent idea, it is also clear to me that they've missed an obvious gap in the market: dead family members whose lives you don't want to celebrate.


You know the sort; the cranky old git who whinges and moans about all the 'foreigners' coming over to our country, the sour faced bint who always insists on giving you the 'benefit of her experience' even though this amounts to nothing more than a lifetime of failure and misery, and the tight fisted bastard who sponges off you for years (with never a word of gratitude) but then leaves their entire estate to the local bloody cats home!


The website could be called or how about or perhaps and would aim to help charities raise new funds in an entirely disrespectful way whilst offering their supporters an opportunity to slag off their ex-relatives in the way that they always dreamed of doing whilst the old tossers were alive.


And remember - since you can't libel the dead, you can feel free to really say what you feel about the old crumblies. After all, they always slagged you off behind your back. Oh yes they did.

Tip of the week #6 - News Alerts

News alerts are a must as far as I am concerned.

Why go to all that bother of searching through countless newspapers, journals, websites, blogs, and so forth, when news alerts will do it for you?

I currently have some 50 or so alerts set up (through my news archive subscription and also Google Alerts) which scan the newspapers and websites of the world for information about my prospects. They can't even breath without me hearing about it. OK, so sometimes you get information overload, there's no doubt about that, but better to receive too much information than too little, is my view.

And, of course, you can - in fact, you must! - tailor your alerts using Boolean operators to filter the information that you receive.

For example, working as I do at the lovely Stroke Association, I am interested in news concerning prospects who have had a stroke or know someone who has, and so on. I could, if I were really dumb, use the following search term for a daily news alert:


This would bring up every news item about someone who had suffered a stroke, but it would also bring up all kinds of completely useless information (unless I had a particular fondness for golf stories, I suppose) and so would be a complete waste of my time. However, using Boolean, and with a bit of thought, I can really narrow down the search and so receive only the information in which I am really interested:

(stroke n5 (suffer* OR died OR had OR after OR having OR serious OR mild OR minor OR debilitating) OR cerebral haemorrhage OR cerebral infarction) NOT stroke of luck

Now, I must admit that this does still bring up the occasional golf story; if someone "had two strokes" to get the ball out of the bunker then I'll get that story, but I do not want to prevent this if it means that I'll miss out on the story about multi-millionaire Lord Bloggs having "had two strokes" last year, but now well on the way to recovery (and looking to offload part of his massive fortune!) 

Clearly, you may have to play around with your search alerts until you get the right mix, but it is time well spent. I've lost count of the number of prospects I have identified using news alerts (then again, I can't count higher than 5 or 6, so this may not say much).

That's all for now - ciao!


Tip of the Week #5 - search engines with a difference

F--- Google!*   

In this day and age of web 2.0 and all that hyped bollocks, don't just rely upon Google, or the other bog standard search engines for your research, when there is so much more out there.


Here are four search engines that are a little different and could prove useful in your ongoing research.


Blinkx is the world's largest and most advanced video search engine. Using automatic spiders that crawl the Web, and through partnerships with 200 leading content and media companies, blinkx has indexed over 12 million hours of video content and made it fully searchable using speech-to-text transcription and visual analysis.


Kartoo is a metasearch engine with visual display interfaces. When you click on OK, Kartoo launches the query which sends your search to a set of search engines, gathers the results, compiles them and represents them in a series of interactive maps through a proprietary algorithm, whatever the hell that is. Who cares? It looks good and could be useful for visualising a prospect's connections, interests, etc.


Chacha allows you to search the web using a guide (gosh!) who is "skilled at finding information on the internet and knowledgeable on the subject at hand so that you get the few exact results you want, not the millions of results you don't." So says the blurb, anyway. When I used it to search for global warming sceptics, I was less than satisfied with the results, but that was a few months ago. The guides should be better now, having had more practise.


Technorati is the recognized authority on what's happening on the World Live Web (or so they claim!). The website can search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as "citizen media."

* F--- standing for 'forget' of course.

Researching prospects

A recent post on the Prospect-L discussion board asked what sort of information a researcher should gather about their prospects.


Here are the responses:  

  1. Business information - where & what do they do there.
  2. Interests in giving - any strong preference for a particular area of our organization (any strong preference against anything). This will help when soliciting them for a gift and being able to offer them
  3. something they have a strong interest in.
  4. Any giving (even to another organization) is good information to collect (to understand their capability of giving or where their interest is)
  5. Family connections - who are they related to. Information on children is helpful (major donors with wealth and no children make excellent planned giving prospects).
  6. Community Connections - who are they connected to that they can help us with or vice versa. Or if we play 6 degrees to that unreachable person out in the community - can we make the connections through this person and their affiliations.
  7. How donors feel about our organization, general impressions out in the community, etc.
  8. Any indicators of wealth - second homes, high-priced toys (may not be an asking point but good information to collect)
  9. If they've lived somewhere else - helpful when researching additional information on the person to know to look somewhere else as well as their Central Florida location
  10. It's also helpful to know their date of birth (or age estimate), marital status, children with their ages, areas of interest outside the workplace, affiliations with other businesses/organizations. Date of birth lets you know what cycle of life they are in. Typically the older the donor, the more they can give. Marital status indicates this as well. Age of children and number of children will play into their capability as well. If they have kids getting ready for college, they won't have as much money to share with your organization. Areas of interest outside the workplace offer topics with which to open conversations showing comradery [I presume they mean camaraderie, but I'm not sure! - Mat].
  11. Other affiliations such as board membership.


Bored at work?

It must get very monotonous for the people who have to update DASH and so it's not surprising if their minds occasionally wander and they mistype certain words, which must be the explanation behind this little gem:

I mean, what other explanation could there possibly be for mistyping Hampshire??


Tip of the Week #4 - cheaper alternatives to

The electoral roll is an invaluable aid to finding and confirming a prospect's address and has been at the forefront of suppliers of electoral roll information for several years.

Each year they produce what they describe as 'Britain's leading people finder on CD ROM', and they have now just published UK-Info Pro V13, which allows you to search 29 million names and addresses from the 2007 Electoral Roll, 17 million Directory Enquiry listings and 2.3 million company listings.

Cor blimey mister! Not bad, eh?

Well, not bad, but not cheap either, at £349.99 (why this price?! Why not just £350? Makes no sense to me...)   

This is the list price on their website but fear not, gentle reader, for there are alternatives. 

For example, you can get it for only £254.47 from Dwarf software, which is a saving of almost £100. 

But you can do better. For only £229.99 you can get it from Amazon. A saving of £120! 

But why restrict yourself to or their UK Info product?


The UK Electoral Roll online offers a variety of search options, all cheaper than buying the UK Info disc.


For example, for £13.75 per month (£165 per year) you can carry out unlimited searches of the electoral roll by full name, forename, surname or address, a package which includes unlimited searches of the Birth, Death and Marriage records.


Or how about using their Property Ownership Search. For £6.75 per month (£81 per year) you can find the title for any UK Property (England, Ireland and Wales only). Details available include date of purchase, full names of the owners and price paid, if available.


Obviously, these searches will not have the bells and whistles of UK-Info disc - the directory enquiries or the UK wide map, for example - but such things can be found for free elsewhere.


And there are undoubtedly other products, with a variety of payment options. Shop around until you find the one to suit you - don't just follow the herd!


Tip of the Week #3 - How to find trusts that appear not to exist

Anyone who is a member of the Trust Fundraising group will be familiar with the following message:


"I'm looking for the XYZ Trust and I can't find it on the charity commission register..."


Oh boy, how annoying are they? Yup, very.


But fear not, for this week's tip, by guest tipper Mel Matthews of TB alert, gives some prime pointers on how to find those seemingly elusive trusts:

If I had a pound for every time someone said they can't find a charity on the register and I found it I'd be rich! That's not to imply someone is being stupid or lazy not to find it. The problem is you have to think stupid (probably why I'm so good at it). The thing to remember is that it is there. If it's a charity, registered in the UK, it is there. Then you have to think of all the wrong ways to write the name (for ages I couldn't find my own charity TB Alert because they put it as T B Alert. We had to get TB added as a keyword - so you still won't find it if you search under name only. And we can't do a thing about it as they will only use the name your charity is registered under and at the time none of our trustees noticed that the lawyer had typed T B Alert.)


So, if you were looking for the JLD Trust you will not find it if it's written on the register as J L D Trust.


Remember also that if you search under "name" it looks for things "beginning with". So if you were looking for JLD Trust you might not find it because it is actually called Mr Smith's JLD Trust - even though everyone calls it the JLD trust.


It could be called J L-D Trust if the initials stood for the Jack Lloyd-Doobry Trust.


Any of these things will prevent you finding it. But it will be there!


There are lots of other silly pitfalls too (think wrong spellings - is it Smith or Smyth, Barrington-Jones or Barrington Jones, Mrs Widgery's Trust or The Mrs Widgery Trust - you get my drift)


But the thing to remember is that it is there! I have never managed to catch them out yet! On this particular example, the real reason you won't easily find the JLD Trust is because it is called the J.L.D. Trust. Obviously!


Having guidestar now it does make it a bit easier as their searching is a bit more user friendly, but this still foxes new researchers a lot and is useful to think about in searching any computer directory or database.

So there we are - no excuses now for not finding that elusive trust.


And don't forget that Mel's sage advice also applies to finding trusts through search engines!

Tip of the Week #2 - There's more to life than the ST Rich List

Ah, the Sunday Times Rich List, what would we do without it?


"Some real research into a prospect's wealth" is the first response that comes to mind.


Now, don't get me wrong, I use the ST Rich List as much as the next man/woman/transsexual, but it is important to realise that one should take many of the wealth valuations with a large pinch of salt.


An accountant acquaintance of mine with some 40 years experience of valuing companies is very rude about the way wealth is calculated in the Rich List. Having explained to me how a particular figure was probably arrived at, he concluded:


"All this I hasten to add is a journalist's idea of value and almost certainly will have no relation to the real world which is why when it comes to unquoted companies no­one can rely on Beresford's figures."


Of another method of wealth evaluation (using shareholdings in a company and its various subsidiaries) he commented that the result "is unlikely to be a value as such but that never troubles Beresford."


Ooh, he's really not a fan. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.


But the rich list is still very useful for those of us who do not have years of experience evaluating company values and cannot tell our P/E ratio from our PEG ratio. And many of the valuations are accurate of course. The skill is in determining which is which. And then working out exactly how much liquid wealth that person may have to spend on your lovely cause, which is another matter entirely.



Another important point to note, regarding the ST Rich List, is that it is not inclusive, as Beresford himself noted in April 2005:


"This year there were 500 people or families in the rich list worth over £100 million. I reckon...that there are at least another 500 worth £100 million who are missing."


For example, here are a few wealthy people not in the Sunday Times Rich List (book version):

  1. Harry Djanogly (Worth £300m according to an article in the Evening Standard, London's Secret Rich, Dec 2005).
  2. Dame Vivien Duffield (worth £45m according to various news reports from 1999 to 2002, including the Sunday Times, but does not appear in the Rich List from 2003 onwards).
  3. Terry Pratchett (Worth £10m or so, according to my recent evaluation, as posted on the Prospect Research UK discussion board in late March). The same goes for several other best selling authors.
  4. Numerous City monkeys, whose multimillion pound bonuses remain off the radar (mostly).

So, this week's tip is to use the ST Rich List by all means, but to be aware that it is just one source amongst many for evaluating wealth and that, like most of them, it is not perfect.


And as for the so-called Giving Index...oh boy, don't get me started.



This is why we do research...

Here's an amusing story from Sunday's Telegraph, amongst others, illustrating the importance of doing your research before inviting prospects to an event.



For the last few months, the multi-millionaire Sir Christopher Evans has been appearing in national newspapers and television news bulletins because of his prominence in Scotland Yard's cash-for-honours inquiry, and was even arrested during the 13-month inquiry.


A long-term donor to New Labour, Sir Christopher secretly lent the party £1 million in 2005 (it was recently repaid). His role came under scrutiny after the police obtained a note handwritten by Sir Christopher about an alleged conversation with Lord Levy in 2000. The Prime Minister's chief fundraiser is alleged to have asked Sir Christopher whether he wanted "a K or a big P" - believed to have been a reference to a knighthood or peerage.


Scotland Yard's 12th and final report on the cash-for-honours affairs was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service nine days ago. There have been unconfirmed reports that Sir Christopher is one of five people detectives hope will be charged.


But all this seems to have escaped the nation's biggest crime-fighting charity, Crimestoppers.


Last week Sir Christopher was apparently more than a little surprised to discover he had been invited to the Crimestoppers annual dinner. As he read the two-page letter, he was baffled - and more than a little entertained - to learn of the venue for the event, and its host.


"You will have the unique opportunity to dine in New Scotland Yard and debate the issues of common concern in the company of senior officers," said the invitation from Robert Hughes, the director of development and communications of Crimestoppers.


"Your host for the evening will be Assistant Commissioner John Yates, QPM, who has recently been leading the 'cash-for-honours' inquiry."


It was the very same John Yates who authorised his men to arrest Sir Christopher! 


The Telegraph reported that the prospect of Sir Christopher turning up at New Scotland Yard and being introduced to Yates looked remote. Jack Irvine, his spokesman, said: "Chris and I were tempted to take a couple of seats at the Crimestoppers's dinner then start chucking bread rolls during John Yates's speech. But the poor man is under enough stress."


Ah well, at least he saw the funny side of it, but I can't see him making a donation to Crimestoppers anytime soon, which is a criminal shame (ouch - sorry).  

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