Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prospect Information Collection Rules

It goes without saying that a major part of prospect research is information collection. Being in charge of the private information of prospects is a big responsibility, so it's important that fundraisers maintain high integrity when handling this information.

At a recent AFP International Conference on Fundraising, Chair Robbe Healey of Simpson Senior Services and Bill Bartolini of George Washington University discussed issues of ethics and honesty in assembling and keeping donor information. In particular, they discussed fundamental principles adapted from the Association of Professional Research for Advancement (APRA) and its statement of ethics.

These standards pertain to information collection in the following ways:

  • All information will be collected in a legal manner;
  • A good faith effort will be made to collect and store information that is verifiable;
  • We will be honest in identifying our jobs, our employers and ourselves;
  • We will collect only information of value in the development process;
  • We will respect the wishes of the person being researched;
  • Whenever possible, we will use second party sources (such as online databases) for public documents such as SEC forms, property and stock holdings and court documents; and,
  • Based on personal research, it is known that certain public documents are sensitive to some constituents and the use of them for fundraising purposes may strain relationships between the individual and the organization.
Any breach of trust that occurs between the nonprofit and the prospect will not only destroy the relationship with that individual, but also has the potential to damage beyond repair the organization's reputation overall. This is why it's imperative that nonprofit managers make sure their fundraisers take these rules to heart.

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