The latest edition of Association of Fundraising Professional’s magazine, Advancing Philanthropy, contains a series of articles on prospect research.  The articles focus on educating the non-researcher to the benefits of effective use of data, analytics and research to improve an organization’s fundraising operations.  In addition to two main articles, More Than Data: How prospect research can help you fine-tune your ask, allowing you to raise more money more cost-effectively and On Target: How the right knowledge about your prospects is essential – when you use it correctly the journal contains a number of additional shorter break-outs chock full of interesting and informative content.

Rather than painting a controversial image of our profession as we have seen in mass-media news outlet articles over the past couple of years, AFP takes a balanced and positive approach to educating professionals who may be less familiar with what researchers actually do. Often times, especially for those of us who work for large andmega-large development shops, we forget about the need to educate those around us to the fundamentals of what we do and why we are doing it.  I know from my own work that there are many fundraising professionals who know very little about how research and analytics can truly make a difference in helping target the right prospect for the right ask at the right time.

AFP’s articles serve as a great refresher filled with good talking points for those of us directly in the research and analytics fields and a great primer for development professionals who may be just dipping their toes into our corner of the Development world.  And, I venture that the articles’ contents could also greatly benefit others outside of our direct professional field, including board members, donors and the broader community, to better appreciate our work.

For those of you who are AFP members, go find your January/February 2011 copy of Advancing Philanthropy or log-on to the members site of the AFP website to read the digital version.  And, for those of you are who are not AFP members, consider asking a friend or colleague if you could borrow their copy, or join your local AFP chapter, so that you can access the articles too.  This issue is a must read!!

*Melissa Bank Stepno is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at melissa.stepno@blackbaud.com.