Sunday, April 22, 2012

Foundation Center Meetup

The group recently visited the Foundation Center to learn about prospect research. Mrs. Susan Shiroma, senior librarian at the organization, explained the services provided by their library, explored the resources available on the website and gave some career advice ("Never give up tenure!").

First, what is prospect research? Prospect research is the assessment of an individual or organization in order to determine the likelihood (and amount) of that particular entity  giving a donation to a charitable organization.  The website has a helpful worksheet to help researchers keep track of their data. Another useful feature of the website is a portal with many different options to help researchers find potential funders.  Also of interest is the 990 finder which allows one to search IRS tax returns from charitable organizations. Organizations are required to list the previous years donations (the amounts and those who received them) on these returns.The Foundation Center also has an article on finding and maintaining prospects.

Mrs. Shiroma explained that becoming a prospect researcher is a natural choice for a librarian since it involves research and attention to detail. She encouraged us to visit the ARPA webpage (Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement) and to consider becoming a freelancer in the field.

Another interesting feature on the Foundation Center's website is the Trend Tracker which allows users to compare data from different charitable groups. Also helpful are the free webinars to help aspiring prospect researchers work on their fundraising projects. There are also blogs which highlight specific issues including the economic crisis, food security and many more.   In addition to the many free resources available through the Foundation Center's website, the organization also has intensive courses available for a fee.

The presentation was informative and there is much potential for overlap between the library science and prospect research fields.

About the Author: Allison is NYC based librarian who graduated with an MLS from Queens College. 

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