Director of Prospect Research

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Florida, United States
Salary Not Specified
Feb 02, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time
Job Description

The director performs advanced prospect research, generates fresh leads, recommends gift officer portfolio assignments and preliminary prospect development strategies, and writes profiles of key prospects. The director reports to the Senior Director of Data Solutions in Data Services.

This position requires flexibility, confidence, strategic thinking, and the ability to provide deep, targeted research on new opportunities for philanthropic support. The individual must quickly perceive and seize opportunities for synergies with other units and projects. They lay the groundwork for the fundraising process through comprehensive strategic analysis of donor pools, philanthropic giving trends and the exploration of key relationship networks. They are responsible for presenting meaningful and actionable data as it relates to ongoing fundraising activities and new campaign initiatives.

The position’s work is a combination of proactive data mining to identify new leads and strategies and responsive fulfillment of data requests from philanthropy officers and institutional leaders. Using a broad spectrum of both public and specialized, proprietary data sources, the director retrieves, organizes, analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates a prospect’s financial capacity, ability to give, willingness to give, charitable interests, and current and potential connections to the institution. Armed with this information, the director recommends potential paths for relationship development and, at later stages, appropriate specific ask types and sizes. The director prepares biographical profiles that highlight insights that can support philanthropy officers’ successful efforts. To address various needs, profiles vary from simple event/activity participant biosketches to extensive, multi-faceted studies.

Conduct research on prospective donors

  • Anticipate the necessity for and conduct in-depth prospect research and produce factual and evaluative information on parents, alumni, potential trustees, and other prospective donors. Monitor the Office of Philanthropy operations calendar, plans of the President and senior executives, and upcoming events and begin preparations well in advance.
  • Proactively identifies new prospects uses creativity and resourcefulness to develop strategies and programs that grow the size and value of the managed prospect pool for the University; this includes aggressive collection, maintenance, and analysis of information, including developing predictive models and/or other data collection techniques. An example would be scanning key aviation and aerospace industry news and information into potentially actionable insights and recommendations for effective cultivation and solicitation strategies.
  • Create effective and consistent biographical profiles and briefing documents for donor meetings and events and deeper background research on potential prospects for major gifts. Briefing documents may include personal and family history, interactions with the institution, giving capacity estimates and wealth ratings, corporate connections and board service, community engagement, business interests, philanthropic behaviors, solicitation strategies, suggested asks, and other similarly useful data.

Administer prospect research program

  • Strategize and partner with gift officers to support the development of high-capacity portfolios. Recalibrate portfolios as needed to maximize performance and elevate the highest priority prospects for management.
  • Monitor trends in overall grant making and individual philanthropy.
  • Identify and recommend potential data sources and analytical tools.
  • Provide input on the formulation of policies for prospect assignment, management, tracking, and reporting.
  • Contribute to the maintenance and accuracy of the donor database.
  • Develop expertise in the institution’s academic programs and priorities and apply that knowledge to focus donor solicitation strategies.
  • Safeguard the confidentiality of donor information at all times. Adhere to ethical and confidentiality guidelines. Maintain the professional and ethical standards set forth for the field by the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA).
  • Recruit, train, and manage the activities of student employees, instilling a high-level of discretion and respect for confidentiality. Exercise sound judgment when assigning students to research projects.

Special projects in prospect research

  • Support an evolving array of discrete special projects of varying scope, duration, and complexity (e.g. peer screening exercises, data mining, data screening by vendors) as directed.


Required Qualifications:

  • B.S. and 3 years of professional experience as a prospect researcher or a combination of 5 years of applicable experiences. Preference for 5 years of prospect research experience in a higher education setting, and demonstrated strengths in prospect strategy development, profile writing, and crafting suggested asks. Knowledge of or interests in aviation a plus.


  • Understanding of greater philanthropic landscape, including foundations and corporate giving
  • Understanding of fundraising-focused prospect research principles and methods
  • Experience with subscription research tools to conduct detailed background research on individuals, businesses, and organizations, including relationship mapping (e.g. LexisNexis)
  • Data mining methodologies
  • Experience with donor databases and prospect management systems
  • Understanding or corporate and organizational structures and hierarchies
  • Basics of strategic planning, budgeting, business analytics, and productivity projections
  • Calendar management and meeting logistics
  • Business, professional and social etiquette
  • Proper business correspondence and document formatting
  • Expert proficiency in the Microsoft Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Proficiency with general office equipment, computers, and software
  • Proficient use of the internet as a productivity or research tool
  • Mathematics, especially as applied to completing financial documents and analyzing financial data


  • Effective verbal and written communication skills. Write at an executive level, to conduct in-depth research and edit professional fundraising documents while combining inputs from multiple people and sources
  • Analytical and synthetic skill. Conduct research and rigorously confirm accuracy of information
  • Produce prospect reports, maps, tables, graphs, and other technical information
  • Excellent organizational skills and high attention to detail
  • Logical thinking, especially as applied to developing complex computational search algorithms
  • Strong strategic thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Proficiency with data systems
  • Solid presentation skills
  • Robust interpersonal skills
  • Effective supervisory skills
  • Applying mobile device technology for productivity and communication


  • Communicate in a tactful and professional manner
  • Manage priorities of multiple simultaneous projects and meet assigned deadlines
  • Effectively problem-solve
  • Access and collect information from relational databases
  • Demonstrate discretion, robust professional ethics, and confidentiality with personal data
  • Take initiative and work independently
  • Comprehend, analyze, digest, and summarize complex sets of information
  • Synthesize complex data and produce concise, clear and actionable reports
  • Learn quickly and adapt well to new situations
  • Willingness to learn new tools, technologies, and skill sets, and adapt to a growing and changing development environment
  • Work successfully in a diverse team environment
  • Maintain positive and respectful engagement with colleagues and clients
  • Adhere to unit and university policies and procedures
  • Work effectively in a multi-faceted organization and develop mutually respectful relationships with stakeholders at all levels as well as diverse individuals and communities
  • Travel as appropriate by automobile, aircraft and other means for work related trips
  • Work frequently on evenings and weekends, as required
  • Maintain a valid driver’s license and possess the ability to safely and effectively drive

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